Leila Case: Irma raises peanut butter and jelly to gourmet level

Published 3:50 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

On the 16th anniversary of 9-11 — the horrific day when terrorists hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington that resulted in the loss of countless lives — the state of Georgia experienced another kind of monster — Hurricane Irma, a colossal storm that devastated Florida and the Caribbean.
And Sumter County was not spared from Irma’s fury, but we did dodge a bullet in that she was downgraded to a tropical storm. Oh, there has been loss of electrical power, downed trees and much property damage, but it has been spotty throughout the county, especially within the city limits of Americus.
The real heroes of this natural disaster are the dedicated, skillful linemen with Georgia Power Co. and Sumter Electric Membership Corporation. They worked almost around the clock to re-connect the myriad of wires to restore electricity. It’s much more complicated than putting together a gift Santa left under the tree and place tab A into slot B and so on. That was not my job.
Neither was being a pioneer woman. But we survived and nicely on peanut butter, which I love and never have the luxury of eating, apples, and divine tomato sandwiches. Of course, water and grapes that had been turned into wine; a delicious hot meal daughter Lori contributed to the cause and a good book: “The Address,” by Fiona Davis, read by lantern light.
Everyone has an Irma story and some are worse than others. Our main complaint was not being able to have a cup of strong, black, hot Café Campesino coffee first thing Tuesday morning. When you are an early riser like me, it was agony waiting until daylight and the city curfew lifted to venture forth to see just what establishment was up and running and, of course, brewing hot coffee. We hit pay dirt at Hardees. Bless their hearts; they were pouring not only strong and steaming hot coffee, but serving breakfast, that we happily devoured despite it being calorie laden. The manager and her staff were very efficient and kept wait lines moving swiftly and satisfying customers like me. Unfortunately, while we searched we missed a phone call from friend Carol Brown, our grandsons’ maternal grandmother, who invited us for coffee at her house a few blocks away. She had power and so did my backdoor neighbors Ronnie and Connie Vissage. It’s weird how power grids are connected. Whoever designed the city’s power grid when electricity came to town in the early 1940s and late ‘30s was apparently a mad electrical genius.
A tremendous and standing ovation is extended to Georgia Power Co. linemen and executives, EMC, AT&T, tree trimmers, city workers, medical personnel and other first responders as well as dispatchers,  and the countless other service people involved with getting us back on our feet again after having to deal with such a wicked and uninvited guest.
Many Floridians and coastal Georgia residents sought safety here. Those sheltering friends and relatives I’m aware of were Charles and Kim Christmas, Tim and Marisol Pomeroy, Rene and Elena Carne, Joey Dunn, and Ed and JoAnn Pope. The Popes hosted Betty Hewitt and her daughter, Debbie, who evacuated St. Simons Island, while Bill Capitan evacuated to his home on South Lee Street. Mark and Nancy Hayes hosted their grown son and daughter, Will Hayes and Mary Kate, their spouses and infant granddaughter, Caroline, that Nancy said was a delightful treat.
Meanwhile, a number of University of Georgia Bulldog fans fled town ahead of the storm to travel to South Bend, Indiana, for the UGA-Notre Dame game last Saturday night which was a nail biter, but we won 20-19. Lee and Faith Pinnell and children, Samantha (Sam) and Shaw, flew to Chicago a couple of days before game day. They celebrated Sam’s 14th birthday in the Windy City and took an interesting architectural cruise on the Chicago River, viewing the buildings and bridges on the guided tour. Ironically, UGA former head football Coach Vince Dooley was on the same boat. On Saturday, they drove to South Bend for the big game. Also at Notre Dame cheering the dogs up close and personal were Dr. Alex Riccardi and her parents, Dr. Lou and Candy Riccardi, Morgan and Jimmy Whaley, Andrew Cook, Ashley Jones and Taylor Austin, and William Rambo. They had a great time at the game as well as tailgating with UGA alumni and the Dawg’s Day fans.
Elsewhere, John and Alice Argo were at Annapolis, Maryland, for the U.S. Naval Academy’s 55th class reunion that John, an alumnus, says was very nice and included 400 alumni and guests. John and Alice cheered the Midshipmen to a 23-21 win over Tulane Saturday afternoon, and enjoyed a river cruise and memorial service Sunday morning at the chapel on campus before flying home to batten down before Irma’s arrival.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.