SUPERVISOR'S ICE STORM JOURNAL
By Frank Karl
The weather reports had forewarned us and areas west and north of us had experienced the storm's fury days before it struck "Our Town". No warning would have prepared us for it's fury. The outcome was a strange contrast between the sheer power of Mother Nature and yet, with all the destruction, the awesome beauty. There were areas of our town where there were more trees and poles (power, cable, and telephone) on the ground than were left standing. While power would be out for as log as fourteen days in some areas, phone service would come and go throughout the emergency.
Standing on our porch that first morning was to witness trees and branches cracking and falling throughout our neighborhood. The area looked like a combat zone with very few trees with tops remaining. I cut my way out to the main road and headed for the Town Hall. No power there and none at the garage, so we set up emergency headquarters at the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, thanks to that great organization and the Town of St. Armand Supervisor, Joyce Morency. Soon, emergency power was established at our town garage and we began our response.
The stories of Ice Storm '98 will be told for years to come and I believe it can be capsulized by one word, "People". Yes, people helping people were the reasons why we were able to cope with what is believed to be the worst disaster in our town's history, and without a serious injury.
Yes, many will spend years restoring their lands to pre-storm beauty and many small businesses and personal property will never be quite the same, but thanks to the unselfish efforts of a great number of volunteers and organizations, we were able to provide the essentials for survival.
The following is a page from a brief journal of one day:
"Saturday, January 10th.
6:30 AM, check with the Firehouse as to status; pick up batteries, drinking water, candles and leave names of people for the National Guard and State Police to check on.
7:00 AM, to town garage, Steve said volunteers coming from DEC, Inmates, Forest Rangers, nearby towns and many from our own town.
To Loon Lake -- check on people out there needing help -- dispensed 8 gallons of drinking water, candles, Pepsi and fire wood. Helped volunteers cut a tunnel up Rt.99 so that vehicles could get through in an emergency. Cut ice laden trees and pushed them off the road with plows.
Highway, Vorrath and volunteers doing a great job -- working endless hours while their own homes go unattended, as they take care of town.
Check out County Rt.30 -- just a pathway cleared. Less trees and wires standing than on the ground. People helping one another -- volunteers cutting brush and trees and clearing roads and driveways. Steve Farmer working with very little rest in order to get roads clear.
Biggest problem -- wires down and people trying to drive by as the crews are trying to clear roads. It's dangerous! Trees are falling as fast as they are cleared. -- Rock Street closed, County Rt. 30 in rough shape, Rte 99 closed -- Loon Lake looks like a combat zone. Union Falls and Franklin Falls trees and poles down and homes isolated. Brian Battistoni and I worked together on Rock Street with Bill, Mike, Gerry and others -- did not make it through -- met DEC volunteers from Northville, coming the other way. Need more equipment -- no other choice -- got to open roads for emergency equipment."
MEMO TO WNBZ 1/10/98 "Highway crew. Volunteers from town, DEC, adjacent towns, as well as extra help working long hours to clear roads and get help to those in need---Please no unnecessary travel especially in the areas where the crews are working. Treat all downed wires as live wires. Check on neighbors. Share. For emergency needs, call the Highway Department, Food Pantry, the Bloomingdale Emergency Center or the Town Supervisor. Travel conditions are extremely hazardous. Please, no unnecessary travel.
The storm is over but the clean up, both townwide and personal property, will continue for many months.
Hopefully, time will dim the losses and heal Mother Nature's wounds, but we will never forget those who gave of themselves to help us through those difficult times. Thanks to all, the various companies and organizations, the outstanding efforts of the Bloomingdale Fire Department, and the Towns of St. Armand, and Brighton, DEC Forest Rangers, the National Guard, Church organizations, the Red Cross, State Police, our Town's Highway Department and volunteers. Thanks to all.
Yes, we suffered some losses but the only real losers in this event in our Town's history are those who continue to be negative and in this time of need failed to rise above their own agendas.
A special thanks to the people of the Town of Franklin for meeting the challenge of "ICE STORM '98" I'm proud to have served with you.
Town of Franklin
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