East Moline man grateful to get power back

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Larry Westbrook got the cold shoulder and everything else early Monday.

"I looked at the thermostat, and it was only 41," he recalled.

The John Deere third-shifter came home to find the lights out along with his furnace.

"That's very cold for your house," he said.

Wearing a stocking cap and scarf, he contended with the power outage in his East Moline neighborhood.

"I stayed wrapped up," he chuckled.

Westbrook wasn't alone. An estimated 650 MidAmerican customers were without power since about 4 Monday morning. The Community Outreach Church, operated by Larry's dad, opened a temporary warming center along with the East Moline Fire Department.

"We're here to help any time situations like this arise," said Larry Westbrook Sr. "We like to be a part of the rescue."

MidAmerican crews braved the elements and worked high above ground. They restored most power by 9 Monday morning.

At the same time, East Moline firefighters were busy with medical calls and equipment problems linked to the weather.

"Our truck just got back from a call," said Capt. Bruce Colmer. "The pump froze up, so we're thawing that out right now."

For Larry Westbrook, the smallest things can make a big difference on this brutal day. It's all about electricity.

"I heard a beep," he said. "I heard the furnace. I just looked up and said, oh man, thank you God," he recalled.

Larry was busy setting his clocks and fixing a hot pot of coffee. After a long cold night, it was getting warmer inside.

"It's a great sign for this brutal weather, knowing that you can be warm in your house," he concluded.

For Westbrook and hundreds of others, a cold blast they won't easily forget.