Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ice Storm 1998 - 10 years

It was ten years ago almost to the day that the Ice Storm struck our town. It was both gorgeous and devastating. It was also memorable.

I awoke the morning the power had gone out beside a sleepy, new baby. My mom was sitting in my living room (I was living in an attached apartment at my parent's home in the country) waiting for me to wake up. I immediately noticed it was cold in the house. Mom had let me sleep in as I was a good heat source for the baby. K had been born on the 23rd of December. She was a mere two weeks old. My life was a fog of breastfeeding and diaper changing. My mom was doing her best to get her life to revolve around the grandchild's.

Long story short, we toughed it out at home for an hour or so. The neighbourhood was certain the baby would be getting cold any time so I packed up and headed next door in order to forestall the parental mutiny that was about to take place if I hadn't. My GP lived next door to my parents. The maternity nurse lived two doors down the other way. Our GP's house was equipped with a number of wood stoves, an excess of empty bedrooms and a well stocked freezer. Along for the ride was Mrs. GP, their neighbours on the other side and my extended family. We embarked on a week of eating like kings in order to use up the food that was thawing. The menfolk thawed ice for necessary water (flushing and bathing). The womenfolk reached deep into our ancestral instinct and prepared wood-stove-top meals. K was bathed nightly in a stockpot - not because nightly bathing was necessary, but to ensure everyone got a turn. As it turns out, babies are very entertaining in a house of 12 people with no electricity.

My uncles smuggled a generator to our home from Barrie, Ontario. It took them nearly 24 hours to make the usually 4 hour drive. They packed their own food and water as there was none available on the way. The generator was hooked up to my parent's home and then shared among the neighbours throughout the day so the pipes of the homes would not freeze. We got to know the hydro workers who worked to repair the lines and restore power on our road. To gas up the car meant waiting in line for hours - and only if you had cash - to hope there was still gas at the pumps by the time it was your turn. For a change of scenery, a stroll around the grocery store was entertaining and informative. There certainly wasn't much food to buy as the trucks stopped running and people had panic-shopped the shelves to nearly empty.

It was definitely an adventurous time. It was an important time as well. We learned about community and helping others and graciously accepting help for ourselves. To his day, I can call any of the people on my parent's road and they are ready and willing to help. We learned about being prepared and surviving without panicking (well, most of us, anyway). We learned about patience.

The pics here I gleaned from the 'Net. I'll have to scan in my own for you to see. I still see remnants of the Ice Storm here in town and out at my parent's place. The trees have no tops. They're sort of flattish across the tops - stunted looking. If you walk in the woods, you can still find half-downed trees, damaged from the weight of the many inches of ice. It was a memorable time. So much so that in my emotional post-partum state, I immortalized it by adding a weather related 6th name to my poor daughter's moniker. Yes, the poor thing has 6 names in total. Like I said, it was a memorable time.


Debbie said...

Wow - you have made that time seem so real to me. Living far away from the area, and knowing nobody who really experienced it, I really had no idea what it was like. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Romany said...

What a fascinating account. We'd returned to the UK the previous year but still saw it all on the nightly news!

Anonymous said...

Great account of the storm!

5 Stars for you.