Some words, photos, and a whole lot of ice

Welcome to the Weekly Writing Challenge. This is where WordPress gives provides a topic (In an Instagram) and bloggers do their best to respond.  Here is my two-cents worth:

Weekly Writing Challenge: Ice

“I can’t believe it’s still ice raining.” These were my first thoughts as I woke up one morning in January 1998. At the time I was living in Montreal and if you know anything about Montreal, you know that winters are harsh. However, it’s usually snow and that’s why I was so surprised to hear the ice pellets hitting our bedroom window for a second day in a row.

This was the beginning of the Ice Storm although at that time I didn’t know it, that’s why it amazes me I still remember that distinct thought about the weather.

At work that day (yes, there was still power) I listened to the radio and began to realize the severity of the storm. Soon everyone was talking about the weather. However, it was still business as usual. It wasn’t until my trip home that things changed for me. I exited the metro and took the bus down Monkland Avenue. Aside from the metro station, there was no power. The entire neighbourhood was in darkness. Power outages are not uncommon in Montreal but based on the news that day, we were all thinking Holy #$%&!

It sounds corny, but in that instant, I was humbled. In that instant I realized I was part of something big, something out of my control and something I was completely unprepared for. Things that yesterday were completely taken for granted now held great significance. How was I going to find my way up the stairs to my apartment door?  Once inside, then what? I don’t think we even owned a flashlight at that time. Candles, where were they? Matches?

Luckily, as the bus approached my building we began to see lights. Our apartment was at the corner of Monkland and Grand Avenue and for some unknown reason a few of the buildings had power. We were an island of light in a sea of darkness.

We took in some friends who were stranded because of a ski trip and we cooked hot meals for others remaining in their dark houses. We only lost power once for about 8 hours and I consider us extremely lucky.

It’s experiences like this though that makes you realize we are just small fish in a very very large pond.   My experience with the Ice Storm was mild compared to what a lot of people experience across the world, but that experience still lingers in my consciousness. Nearly fifteen years later, I still make sure I have candles and flashlights and enough non-perishable food to make it through a couple of days (it came in handy during the blackout of 2003).

One last thing before I share some photos with you, I am writing this in Word as the power has gone off in the neighbourhood and I have no internet access. Ironic? Perhaps, but I am at least prepared.

Right outside my office window.

Passing by a park.

Walking home from work. It took three hours.

Coming across live wires was a concern. This was a street right across from my apartment.


9 thoughts on “Some words, photos, and a whole lot of ice

  1. I remember that storm. I think that was the first time (argh) that our then-mayor asked Ottawa to send Canadian Forces troops to Toronto to help get our prissy butts out of snowbanks …

  2. Good story and photos!Montreal is cold! Your photos show what a disaster an ice storm can be. We had a storm like that in 2008 — I live in Massachusetts — lived in Westford in 2008. Lost power for days that time — four days I believe. After we realized it was going to take days we stayed with friends in a nearby town who had power. Your lesson is a good one — be prepared. When I buy batteries to prepare for a coming storm, my 93 year old father-in-law says — “you’re panicking!” Nope I say — just getting prepared. Then I hope we don’t lose power. So many people think that if a storm blows over they can ignore warnings about the next one. Nope if this storm doesn’t get ‘ya the next one will!

  3. Janet, in January of 1998 I was living in the south of Japan. Mom sent me the Macleans magazine featuring that storm, and I got so homesick for Canadian winters that I cried. Being so far from home, all I saw was the winter I was missing rather than the danger and hardship for those effected. Funny thing, perspective.

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