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Many Random Acts of Kindness during 2013 April Ice Storm

April 18, 2013

Robin looks for shelter. 
Robin looks for shelter.
Weather Vane  covered in ice 
 Fulda Free Press/Jerry Johnson
Fulda Free Press/Jerry Johnson
Weather Vane covered in ice
Many branches came down with the ice and the snow. 
 Fulda Free Press/Darcy Uttech
Fulda Free Press/Darcy Uttech
Many branches came down with the ice and the snow.
By Norma Dittman, Staff Writer
As always happens when an area suffers from nature’s wrath, many stories of volunterism and sharing are heard. What follows are accounts of some random acts of kindness that sprung from the 2013 April ice Storm.

One of the top concerns in Fulda was Maynard’s Grocery Store and the staff’s efforts to preserve meat, dairy, and fresh produce so that their customers would have essential food products available to them during the power outage.

“We actually lost power two times,” Maynards Grocery Store Manager, Julie Hulstein explained. “Both times, Don and I were here within a short time to begin properly handling the food goods. We had so much good help when people heard what we had to do, they were there to help with all of the work.”

Don Rolph, Maynards Grocery Store Meat Manager, said that customers began bringing in totes and boxes to help remove food items from the freezers. “We lost all of the ice cream, but that is to be expected as it has to stay at a much colder temperatures than other items. We really appreciate the twenty-plus people who helped unstock the freezers, meat counter, and fresh produce,” Rolph stated.

Volunteers helped stack food items on the south side of Maynards Grocery Store building to help keep them frozen. “It was a perfect outdoor temperature for that. If it had been any warmer, it wouldn’t have worked,” Hulstein said.

When it became evident that a reefer semi-trailer was needed, arrangements were made through Antonio's for one to be brought into Fulda. Loaded into it were all of the food items from Maynards that needed to be kept frozen as well as food items from Antonio's and Dundee Steak House.

“I am sure that the volunteers think that what they did is a very small service. To us, and to Maynards Grocery, it is a very large service and a gift of their resources and time,” she continued. “Unstocking and restocking and then doing it again just a few hours later is a very strenuous physical workout, but no one complained.”

“It was quite a sight to see because there were all of these people helping and they were doing in it the dark, using flashlights,” Rolph said as he described the preservation efforts during the storm. “We had cars parked out front and on the side shining light so that we could see to move the food where it needed to be.”

Maynards’ truck was due to arrive with more frozen goods on Thursday. “I had a number call me that I didn’t recognize, but I answered it and it was Keith from Keith’s Grocery in Adrian. He said that he had noticed that Fulda was next on the list for delivery and asked if there was anything that they could do to help us. He informed me that he thought they could probably store the items from the truck in their freezers. What a blessing that was!” Hulstein exclaimed.

“We had so many people helping, that if we tried to name them, we’d miss someone,” Hulstein and Rolph agreed. “We just want them to know that their volunteerism is greatly appreciatied.”

Even though the tills in the store were not operational, Maynards Grocery was open for business. All customer grocery orders were written down by hand on paper. Employees helped customers shop by using flashlights and getting their meat and dairy products for them.

Although Casey’s General Store, on US Highway 59, had plenty of fuel, gas could not be pumped due to the lack of electrical power. However, Casey’s was able to sell what they could from their store.

Ramerth Hardware was open for business as usual even though they had no electricity on Thursday. “We assisted our customers by helping them to find the items they needed. We’d find the price and write the information down by hand and use a battery-operated calculator to figure out what they owed,” business owner Lyn Ramerth said. “Doug was (Ramerth) busy with generators on Thursday. That was a bit of a challenge getting them going with no electricity to work with. Sue (Gunderman) and Rick (Troje) were very busy on Thursday and they did an awesome job of helping our customers. On Friday, customers were interested in purchasing chain saws and chain saw repairs. “

For some, electrical power cannot be restored until an electrician visits their home or farm to make repairs to the equipment that is considered to be the property owner’s responsibility. A generator is being used to supply power on one farmstead to both the house and the barns. “We take turns using the generator. When it is needed for chores, that is what it gets used for. We called a local electrician to come to repair the electrical connections on the house and he said that we are ‘on his list’. He also assured me that he would get to us as quickly as possible, even though the list was ‘rather long’,” the lady of the farm relayed.

Stories of neighbors helping neighbors have been many and varied. From the Dundee area is information about a woman from the that area who needed some help due to a known heart problem and the fact that she was having difficulty breathing. When a call went out for help in obtaining an oxygen tank, a member of the Dundee community secured a tank from a local fire hall for her use.

Another family near the Brewster area were able to stay somewhat warm due to the fact that they have two small wall propane heaters in their home. They also could use the top burners on their gas stove. When the husband’s bosses learned of this, they promptly sent a generator to the employee’s home for the family’s use so they could operate their furnace, lights, and water pumps.

Reports were heard of farm families sharing generators so that animals could be fed and watered and cows milked. Sharing those generators also helped to warm homes and prevent freezer food loss.

Also being told are the stories of people who willingly prepared foods to serve to those who were spending hours and hours working to restore power and beginning the clean-up efforts.

One area woman commented, “Even though I didn’t have electricity, I really didn’t suffer. I had filled the bathtub with water so that I could use that for flushing the toilet and cleaning myself and the dishes. I had purchased water for drinking and cooking. The water was heated on a wood burning stove that I have in my basement. I cooked my food on that stove and stayed warm because of that stove,” she shared. When she noticed night lights on her neighbor’s yards, she rejoiced because she knew that their power had been restored. A large branch had fallen across her driveway prevented her from getting her vehicle out of the garage. “It was a very large branch and not one that I could move by myself. Sometime, that branch got pushed back off the driveway. It’s the kindness of the neighbor’s heart, I’m sure,” she stated.

Church congregations on Sunday asked for safety for workers and crews and for those who are still coping with loss of power. Prayers of thanks were said for restored power and other valuable services.

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