On December 11th of this year, New England endured one of the worst ice storms in memory. As the rain began to fall on Thursday afternoon, not too many people were paying attention. By the end of the storm, we all knew that we should be more prepared for the unpredictable. Here are the lessons my family and I learned, even after living in New England for 50 plus years.
Lesson #1:Don’t always believe what you see on T.V.- We all watch the weather on a regular basis, and for the most part, local Meteorologists get it right. However, as I watched the 6 P.M. news that evening, there was very little warning about what was to come. The majority opinion was that “some” icing could occur, but mainly up to the north in New Hampshire. While I considered this storm to probably be a slight nuisance, I had know real warning about the impending weather. Sometimes I think the old paper weather maps, with magic markers, got just as much done. 3-D Doppler Radar is nice, but so what?
Lesson #2: Spend a few dollars to get your home ready for the worse case scenario.- A radio with batteries, a flashlight, and food that doesn’t have to be heated to eat. Sounds simple enough. Did we have any of these items. Nope. We did however, have some candles, used a decorative accessories, that came in handy. We lost all power, phone, Internet, and television about 10:15 P.M. When none of that came back on after 2 hours, we knew we were in trouble. My daughter arrived home early from her overnight job at 2 A.M. Friday morning, when we informed that there were no lights anywhere in our area. It was then, as I watched the candles flickering in the darkness, that I first knew we were in for a long haul. We were not close to being ready, and all stores were closed for days. With no contact with the outside world, we had no clue all day Friday on what was really going on.
Lesson#3: Don’t try to go to work, unless you really have to- As I walked to my job on Friday evening, worried about leaving my cold family in the dark, I figured that they would be closed. But, maybe someone would be outside of work, with information about when the lights would be back on. To my dismay, I was informed, upon arriving, that there would be work that night, thanks to a generator that was being hooked up. I returned home, to inform my wife that I was working, and hoped at least I could get us some food and information on my journey. I got neither, and was away from my family for a very non-essential job. I did manage to purchase some coffee in a can, that could be heated by a push button on the can, and they enjoyed that, but believe me, it was not worth the effort. Stay home, unless you need to help people save lives or something.
Lesson #4: Don’t complain about your own circumstances- Complaining to other people that are in the same boat as you is useless. Everyone, except for those smarter than you, who were prepared, was just as cold, and in the same darkness. After 40 hours, my electric came back on, but no phone or cable. As I complained constantly about that, most of my co-workers still had no power. They would have been happy with lights and heat, but here I was complaining about no T.V. or phone. 6 days later, several of my co-workers are still in the dark, and I have everything back. We all know the story about the man who always complained about the hole in his shoe, only to meet the man with no feet. Lesson learned.
Lesson #5: Learn new respect for those who really have to get it done- Police, firefighter, rescue squads, utility workers, National Guardsman, doctors, nurses, and so on. These people have no time to worry about no lights or heat in their own lives, they have to help everyone else. Hats off to all of these people, you deserve nothing but full credit for everything you do. Thank you all.
The weather people are predicting a major snow storm for Friday. Excuse me while I get to the store for all of my storm supplies, including duct tape for my mouth. I’ll probably get mad if the storm doesn’t really happen, but I’ll come back to read this story first.