Wednesday, February 29, 2012


As I sit here on a nice, calm morning, writing a book that opens in an ice storm, I can't help but remember the ice storm in March of `91, the "Mother of all Ice Storms" they called it.

It came.

It froze.

It piled an unbelievable amount of ice on everything, shrouding our world in bright, glass-like ice. Amazingly beautiful and deadly. Trees crashed under the weight of the ice, bringing down electric lines everywhere. The sound of trees crashing in the dark night, rolling off rooftops, or caving them in, was like no other sound I've ever heard. And it went on for hours and hours.

 There was no communication. No light. No heat. No way to get gasoline because the roads were all blocked with timber and electric lines. No way to run the gasoline pumps if you got to a gas station. Grocery stores full of food had to throw out all perishables. We had batteries for our old radio and that was the only source of communication we had.

We were one of the lucky ones. Our power was restored on day four. Many were out for 10-12 days... And the temperature outside was in the 30's.... Which meant if you didn't have an alternate source of heat, your inside temperature wasn't much better.

Remembering that storm is like recalling where you were when the Challenger disaster occurred. Or when President Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot. Or when Princess Diana died.

That storm taught me so many things. As the years moved on, we installed a beautiful wood-burning stove for heat. We had natural gas run to the house and replaced our old electric kitchen stove with gas. We keep an extra tank of propane in the garage for the outdoor grill.

It took a lot of years, but we were determined to never let our family be cold and hungry and helpless again.

So now, writing this story, I know what ice storms do. I know the problems and injuries that occur. I can write about them without too much research because I lived it.

But I'm thanking God, our Father, for this chilly peaceful morning because it's calm. And I've developed a whole new respect for calm!


  1. I remember that we hardly slept that night because of the trees cracking beneath the weight of the ice. Every time I would start to drift off, another crack/creak would startle me awake. The 4 of us walked up to our local grocery store, skirting branches and wires, but I don't even remember why we went up--maybe for batteries. Just in case. We were most fortunate because we never lost power; we would not have had an alternate source of heat had we done so. Just wondering now what March has in store for us this year after this crazy, less-snow-than-normal winter...
    Blessings, Ruthy... :)

  2. Melanie, writing this book with March bearing down on us is putting me in the "be prepared" frame of mind, but then I look at how much better prepared we are now... Heat. Food. Candles and lanterns for light. Did I mention food??? ;)

    I feel like if something were to happen, we'd be fine. Whiny... :)

    But fine!

  3. Calm is good! I recall hearing about ice storms in eastern Canada a couple winters ago and seeing the damage on TV, but I've never lived through anything remotely like that. We've had windstorms that brought down a few trees, but living rurally means being prepared for that reality, and we have a generator, a wood-burning fireplace and the other essentials to cope. I think the longest our power has been out is four days. We felt like a pioneer family, hunkered down around the fireplace in the evenings, playing card games by coal oil lamplight.

  4. I remember that storm, Ruthy. We weren't affected here in Brooklyn, but I remember how bad it was.
    I'm so glad you are able to make something good come of it.

  5. Carol, you're prepared already! That's awesome. I don't think I had ever considered being out of power for an extended period of time. Then we had that "brownout" on the East Coast and then the ice storm. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out I needed to make some changes!

    And Mary, I'm glad you remembered it! They called it one of the most devastating natural disasters of all time because it hit a densely populated area and just stayed... It was a long time before any kind of order was returned. So this is a labor of love to make a book out of that experience.

    How many people shall I kill????

    That just seems so WRONG! ;)

  6. Ruthy, I experienced something similar with Hurricane Ike in 2008. We were without power for 10 days and that was a short wait. You do learn a lot about yourself, each other, and how the worst of times can bring out the best, and worst, in everyone. And as to how many people you should kill? Go with what you feel =)