Mayhem! Destruction! Anarchy! Oh my!
Live in a cold-weather region?
Today’s and tomorrow’s posts are for you.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Maine was hit with the famous 1998 ice storm. Sheesh, ten years . . . . I was living with my college buds in an apartment in Portland, Maine. I remember we were sneaker/ice skating on the sidewalks. Portland, being on the coast, actually had it easy. I also remember hiking Mt. Chocura in New Hampshire a few weeks later. The mountainside was destroyed, trees were toppled everywhere. I was hiking with a buddy and we were aiming for the Jim Liberty cabin for an overnight. Climbing up in snowshoes, the trail was completely gone. It was a mess just trying to navigate the mountainside with every tree bending horizontal. My hiking homeboy had the bright idea of packing his NEW snowboard up with the intent of boarding down. The board kept getting hung up on trees and it was obvious that boarding down wouldn’t be possible, so he left it in a “strategic location” to pick up on the way down . . . . . . needless to say the next morning, that “strategic location” would never be located. Bye bye new Burton snowboard.
Maine papers have been abuzz in the past few days stirring everyone’s memory of the big event on this anniversary. One article reads:
“Once the storm revealed itself, it was pretty apparent what was going to happen,” said John Cannon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.
Then the storm stalled. For the next two days, freezing precipitation rained down, coating most of central and southern Maine in a thick layer of ice. Trees and branches bent, then broke under the load. Power lines and utility poles snapped, and wires hung in big ice-encrusted tangles.
On Jan. 8, most central and southern Mainers awoke in dark houses where refrigerators and furnaces had fallen silent, while outside the world seemed to be a war zone filled with the sound of trees cracking under the weight of ice. Live wires popped and flashed as they crashed to the ground.
Here is how another article detailed the unfolding of the 1998 events:
Jan. 5: a two-day, freezing drizzle begins
Jan. 6: The National Weather Service warns of severe icing as a more dangerous storm moves into Maine. Many schools and businesses close early.
Jan. 8: Gov. Angus King declares a state of emergency. Forty shelters open statewide.
Jan. 9: Ice coats the state. The Maine National Guard is called out to assist. About 600 people make use of 60 shelters.
Jan. 10: Some of Central Maine Power Co.’s 115,000-volt transmission lines collapse, including one supplying Augusta’s electricity.
Jan. 11: More than 450,000 people are still without electricity. An estimated 3,000 people are staying in 117 shelters statewide.
Jan. 12: One of every four Mainers remains without power. Bangor Hydro Electric Co. scraps a plan to resurrect a wood-fired power plant, accusing owners of “gouging” customers.
Jan. 13: President Clinton declares Maine a disaster area.
Jan. 14: Strong wind and numbing cold slow efforts to repair downed lines. Angry residents threaten CMP workers. Police report a rash of generator thefts.
The dates go on with more details to February 7, when Maine was hit with another storm. Scope the article here.
The storm treated Ranger Man okay. His apartment didn’t go without power, and he was waiting tables at a restaurant at the time. People with no power were coming to restaurants in droves! Kind of makes you realize how unprepared the masses are.
“It was larger than anything we had handled before,” said Lynette Miller, spokesman for the emergency management agency.
Generators, needed to keep public buildings warm for the 3,000 people who sought shelter during the disaster, were the scarcest resource. Homeowners reported a rash of generator thefts. Officials warned against leaving the devices in plain sight.
“We quickly exhausted what was available in the state, and the National Guard worked with Massachusetts to bring in more,” said Miller.
Hospital emergency rooms began to fill with people injured in falls on the ice and sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly ventilated generators and space heaters.
Meanwhile, Central Maine Power Co. and Bangor Hydro Electric Co. fielded thousands of calls from customers wanting to know when power would be restored. “Everybody said, ‘Just tell me when my power is going to come back, and I will make the decision whether to evacuate the house and drain my pipes.'”
CMP replaced 2 million feet of cable, 2,600 utility poles, 4,000 cross arms and 1,500 transformers and took 649,000 customer-trouble calls. Some 3,928 people, including crews from as far away as Maryland, helped CMP cope with the crisis.
Source is here.
Now that I have described the unfolding of this event, in tomorrow’s post I will cover lessons learned and some thoughts on how one can prepare for such situations.
– Ranger Man