Surviving the New
England Ice Storm of ‘08
The red berries on our burning bush were
rimmed with ice and looked like a dessert in a fancy
restaurant. Branches breaking in the forest sounded like
rifle shots. A dazed 6-point buck wandered through our field
looking lost and confused.
Naturally my chainsaw broke as I
started to clear a large maple tree that had fallen across
The Ice Storm of December 11th 2008 will be remembered in
New England for a long time. The sub prime meltdown, the
huge government bailouts, the housing crisis, and Obama’s
election, all paled into insignificance compared to the loss
of electricity in my town for 11 days.
The night the power went out seemed like a lark, a
momentary novelty. Everything would be fine in the morning.
Nope! Morning came and we could view the extent of the
devastation. The surrounding countryside looked as though an
airburst atomic bomb had gone off. Tops of trees were all
over the ground, power and communication lines in shreds,
the sound of generators and chain saws everywhere.
We didn’t have it too bad – at least we had a cell
phone and a battery operated radio to keep up with the news
on our local station. Our wood stove and gas range were
working fine. A nearby stream provided water for flushing.
Places to go for showers and washing clothes made everything
No television or computer at home was a novelty,
old-fashioned conversation and reading good books was very
pleasant, especially after we bought little LED headband
lights that left the hands free to hold a book.
Getting reacquainted with our neighbors was a bonus.
Candle light suppers (potluck) got rid of food before it
spoiled in un-powered refrigerators, and snow-banks proved
handy for chilling beer and other beverages.
16 miles away, our store was doing well, no problems with
the power, no danger of frozen pipes, but we were storm
central. Customer after customer arrived with tales of trees
crashing through roofs, crushing cars, and breaking wires.
Stories of husbands working 19-hour shifts for National Grid
and other utility providers abounded. Horror stories about
blowing delicate electronics with improperly hooked up
generators and extension cords from one house to another.
One couple’s odyssey of flying to New York in their
private plane and buying two generators then renting an SUV
for the wife to drive them home while the husband flew back
with the kids.
As I look up the street behind our store I can still see
high piles of debris piled in yards waiting to be removed.
Making matters worse, we are in a quarantine area because of
a local infestation of the Asian long-horned beetle. (Only
licensed tree removal specialists can handle the debris.)
Recession, pestilence, and war, we can deal with those,
just please, PLEASE, no more ice storms!