ICE STORM MEMORIES
By Roger Symonds
I recall that when the power first went off concern was minimal. --.Usually it's only off for a few hours. --. at most a day. Much has to be done because I work for the school district, shutting down electrical equipment, concerns about refrigeration equipment, heating and ventilation units, boilers and roofs because the loss of power or unstable voltage can have a profound effect on some of the equipment.
Trying to balance what was going on at home with my wife, Bunny, trying to keep the house heated with a fireplace and L. P. gas oven, plus some of the devastating loss of trees, telephone lines, and power lines was a real test. Trying to balance the responsibilities of home and work were difficult.
Obviously as the storm intensified and the deteriorating conditions became more widespread, it became more and more evident that we would not be clear of this storm for sometime.
As the word spread that buildings had collapsed, power would be out for days, if not weeks, a kind of an urgent feeling came over me.
I remember talking on the phone to my wife and asking her if she either wanted to come to work with me or go to our son's house and she replied, I don't want to leave our home alone. Many people felt this way.
As the days grew to a greater height, we could stand outside and in the daylight watch tree tops come crashing to the ground around our house; at night to stand outside in complete darkness and silence with the exception of the rifle like sounds of the trees snapping was a strange feeling. When would it end? Will all the trees be down before this stops? What effect on the forest will the damage have?
You had to remind yourself --. What can I do now.--? I can't fix this problem .--.do something.
Only one school building has a generator and is partially heated.--. A request came to open the school as a shelter.--. I had to mobilize a crew of buildings and grounds department staff.--.classrooms need to be converted to sleeping quarters.--.security became a concern.--.what about stranded travelers, the elderly.--.what if we get more than we have room for.--.what about food.--. Working with the local Red Cross.--.and other public service agencies , evidence of a team effort began to emerge. Mattresses had to be hauled for sleeping quarters from a large summer camp.--.helping to accomplish the moving of the New York National Guard supplies to emergency shelter, the Adirondack Medical Center needs more food and an urgent call for batteries.--.the police department needs more batteries for communications equipment and flashlights.--.the Saranac Lake Adult Center generator is malfunctioning.--.can we help. Thoughts are racing around in your head.--where to direct efforts.--.people who are working --.what about their families and homes.
Better go to other buildings and check the situation, people were getting desperate.--.stores began selling out of lantern fuel, batteries, food, etc. in a hurry. When will this end?
Call home.-- phone is out.--.better go home. -- all ok, my wife keeps fires on.--.get more wood for the fireplace.--.everything is covered with inch thick coating of ice.
Go back to work, check other building.--. Beginning to lose temperature rapidly, some are now at 45 degrees or less.--.should we get more help in and begin draining the plumbing and heating systems.--.this will take several days to do.
Shelter at high school set up, not many people yet.--.call comes in to expect about 80 people from ARC buildings.--.what are their needs.--.keep going, we'll see soon enough.
Set up hot lines with high school phone lines.--.they still work. Calls start coming in for shelter.--.now many school personnel activated.--.food, bus drivers, more buildings and grounds personnel, administrators, etc.
Many roads are now closed.--.conditions worsen when will this end.
Go home again.--.pick my wife up and bring her to work.--.shelter picking up steam. Transportation now in place.--.food.--.feed them at adult center .--.our kitchens not working - no electricity.--.some packaged foods being kept in snow banks.--.everyone doing fine. On Sunday, January 11th, I received 41 calls for help.
I remember the days were short and nights were long without power.
Finally, the power comes on in the village, but all outlying areas still off. Begin to take down shelter - again much help needed to accomplish this task.--.when will school start again.
Television and Radio news reports now back on in the village and we find that the widespread damage we had heard about was not only true but was worse than we expected. The damage spread from the base of the Adirondacks in the south to Montreal. As far west as Lake Ontario and north and east into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Area now declared a disaster.--.much help comes.--.utility crews from as far away as Hawaii, Virginia, Ohio, etc. Hundreds and hundreds of utility crews.--.heros of the storm.
Many jobs at school buildings still remain.--.get equipment back on.--.the staff and students will be coming soon. Work days were long.--.sleep about 4 or 5 hours a day.
Power comes back on in my outlying areas.--.we've been off for nearly five days.--.wood supply at home is low.--.when the lights come on.--.what a relief.
It is now the end of May and cleanup efforts are continuing. I now look back and see many scars that remain on our forests and hopefully we all learned about our dependence on electricity, what you should have in the event of an emergency and that some higher power other than us is in charge of the weather.
Town of Franklin
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