Ice, Ice, Baby: The Ice Storm of '08
By Kate, age 17, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
While some of us are enjoying another warm 70 degree winter, others are dealing with the cold, snow, and ice, especially everyone who lives in New England. On December 12th, 2008, one of the worst ice storms in many years hit the area, and though the storm only lasted a day, for some people the damages and effects lasted well over a week. Trees and branches were covered in glassy ice, giving everything a certain sparkle, but as pretty as it was, it was also deadly. Branches and trees snapped due to the weight of the ice, and ice also covered telephone lines and poles. Branches littered the road, causing roadblocks, and trees even fell on top of some homes. Over a hundred thousand people lost power both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and for many, schools were canceled for a long time.
Living in New Hampshire, the storm hit my area pretty badly. On Saturday, the roads all around were blocked due to fallen branches, which made it impossible for me to go to work, and of course, we didn't have power. Luckily for us, we had a generator. Though it didn't give us power throughout the entire house, it gave us power for all the important things - keeping the refrigerator running and the food cold, a single light and the TV in the living room so we could keep up with the weather and the news, plumbing so we could shower, and a pump we used in our basement because it flooded with water.
Many people weren't as lucky as we were. Many of my neighbors left after the first two days, staying with friends and family, some even staying at hotels. Many stores and businesses were shut down, and the few restaurants that were open were packed full of people who couldn't make dinner at their home. Gas stations were also busy from everyone getting gas to fill their generators. Over the whole week we didn't have power I think we must have filled our generator about ten times.
As if things weren't bad enough, many people were unaware of the dangers generators can cause, and many were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide, some even dying. Fire departments, police, and other public safety people patrolled the streets, checking the damages, and even warning those who had generators to be careful. We kept ours in the garage with the door slightly open because it couldn't get wet, but even that wasn't good enough for the police, who gave us a friendly warning. We were told it had to be at least ten feet from the house for safety. We didn't even have a cord long enough to keep it plugged in.
Theft and scams were also an issue in our area. Many people left their homes, encouraging home robberies. Homes were broken into and many valuables were stolen from families. Generators were also stolen from homes (and they also sold out quickly in stores). Many people were also tricked by scams claiming to fix their power if they paid so much money.
School was closed all week. Though the school had power after the first few days, many roads were not accessible for buses and simply too dangerous for students. My school, along with many others in the area, as well as churches and other public buildings, were opened to the public as shelters. My school offered showers, hot food, computers with internet access, and movies and activities for any school aged kids.
Power was restored as quickly as possible, and slowly residents of New Hampshire and Massachusetts were able to live in the warmth of their own homes again. Being without power for so long made me realize how much we all take it for granted. Sure, I've been without power before, but merely for a few hours. Not having the ability to do the things I was once able to do made things difficult at first. I couldn't check Myspace or Facebook or even e-mail to get updates from colleges, etc. I couldn't do laundry, which wasn't a big deal to me since I wore sweat pants all week. My family and I were at a loss though when we couldn't use our brand new dishwasher! All my life I grew up helping my mom handwash dishes. When we recently redid our kitchen we finally got a dishwasher. We only had it for a few weeks before the power went out and we were handwashing dishes all over again!
It wasn't the end of the world though. We survived without the advantages of power, wearing extra sweaters and bundling up at night. We played board games and helped shovel the driveway, and we stuck together as a family which was the most important thing we could have done. If the Pilgrims could manage to live the way we did, I know we would be able to survive.
Of all the bad things that came out of the storm, one thing is for sure - I think we'll all be happy to see our electric bill because of the lack of power!