By Dan Schreiber, CCM - Prescott, Arizona

Published: March 27, 2023

It was January 1, 2011. The day prior, a winter storm has blasted the area, dropping about six inches of snow. I’d seen more in Prescott, but that amount is still a decent amount, considering that there was a sheet of ice underneath it. But this morning, it was also about zero degrees (°F) outside. Bright, sunny, and calm.

Given the holiday, I had the day off from work. I went out to my carport to change the oil in my pickup truck. Fortunately, I’d done it many times, so it was a quick job. I immediately got a phone call from my boss calling me into work. At the time, I worked at a university in the maintenance department. I was the lowest-paid employee, so I was often called in for overtime, basically because I was the cheapest. And, I loved to work, so win-win.

Temperatures on January 1, 2011 - Prescott, Arizona
Figure 1: Temperatures on January 1, 2011. Source: NOAA Archives

Because of the severely cold weather combined with the lack of running heaters on the university campus (due to Christmas break), numerous pipes had burst across campus, flooding buildings. The university gym floor was ruined due to a ruptured drinking fountain line that went unchecked for a number of days – that was an expensive loss just in itself. Many of the fire sprinkle lines in the dormitories had also busted, soaking the floors in the dormitories.

My job – at a double-overtime rate of $16 an hour (I was getting rich!) – was to take the carpet-cleaning trailer and suck out all the flooded water. Just getting the truck and trailer to the dormitories was tough, as the roads were not cleared of snow and ice, and at one point I was forced to jackknife the trailer on a hill in attempt to avoid backwards-sliding off the road and down an embankment. Talk about pucker-factor. A guy with a tractor towed me out of that mess.

I worked for 12 hours that day. That was a good day’s work. Bad weather has since always kept me well-employed.