photos stolen from the Portland Press Herald
Ice Storm '98
Hi! I am in Southern Maine and I got slammed by the ice storm. Yes I am a victim and a static. This is my story. I thought some of you might be thinking "So, Cesg, what is the deal with a little rain and some cold weather?" Well, let me tell you. It is a lot more than I originally thought!
It all started on Wednesday, January 7th. The rains came. There are two types of freezing rain. One is when the air is cold, the other is when the ground is cold. When the ground is cold the traveling stinks because the roads freeze. The air was cold, this is worse. While traveling isn't all bad, the rain sticks to everything and especially the little stuff like small tree limbs and branches and electrical wires. On Wednesday it wasn't too bad around here. It was a bit inconvenient, having to scrape your car, but with the de-icer I just bought I could live with that.
Thursday the rain kept coming. Once again the roads weren't that bad. The cities had done a great job keeping them sanded. I got up and scraped of my car again and headed into work. Later that evening I started getting phone calls asking if we had power. I knew ice storms can cause power outages, I wasn't worried. A bit later, one of the girls came in and said that there were a LOT of outages in the area. I called home to see how we were faring. My husband thought I was psychic because the power had just gone out. I still wasn't worried. I have lived though outages before and they had rarely lasted the night. I live in a populated town in Southern Maine. If you know of it you know that we aren't city like each house has about an acre of land and there are farms and fields and woods, but we are only twenty minutes away from Portland, Maine's second biggest city. We are usually taken care of before the outlying communities, that are more woods then houses. I would miss "must see tv" but I could live with that. As I was driving home, all of the houses were lit on my street, until I hit my town. My street runs through three cities. I am less than a quarter mile from the next town. Every one on that street had electricity until you hit my town.
The next morning I still didn't have power. The house was cold but not unbearable. I headed off to work. My first job is at the Racket and Fitness in Portland. All morning long I was telling people that we had power, and letting people use the showers. After that I went to my second job, and this is when it hit me! I work at a grocery store. We were MOBBED! We had run out of water. I work at the service desk where people cash their checks. That day and all weekend long, I cashed more than double the amount of checks than the busiest day's before that. On Friday night I went home expecting to have power. As I turned on to my street I knew that wouldn't be the case. At this point the entire street was with out power. At least the rains had stopped. I figured it wouldn't be long.
On Saturday morning the house was cold! We got up and went out to breakfast. This was the first inkling I had that this was no ordinary storm. The restaurant wasn't packed, in fact we got right in. It was the paper that I purchased to go with breakfast. More than half of the state was with out power. Canada looked like a warzone. Our weather was warm though. The sun was shining, and the ice started to melt off the trees. This was fun to watch from the comfort of your home, but driving wasn't fun. Ice would fall from the trees and try to hit your car. It also landed on the road that was covered in shade so it would sit there and make the roads slushy. I decided to head in to work early. My husband went to my parents house and they lent us their generator. With it we could keep the house warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing. See with no electricity I had no heat. I also didn't have water, because I have a well. My parents wanted me to spend the night with them. I really wanted to sleep at home. Work was slammed. We were out of anything someone might want if there was no power. We had candles, but no matches, propane, steno, batteries, rock salt or bottled water. When the truck came in with the water you should have seen the commotion. People were not aggressive, they just bought al ot of it. That night as I traveled home, I saw a Central Maine Power truck on the town line, the one a quarter mile from my home. I was once again hopeful that my power would be on soon. No such luck!
Sunday and Monday was a lot of the same. I kept hoping for the power to be turned on and kept being disappointed! During this time I would call the house in hopes the answering machine would turn on. Monday night the weather turned cold. I piled the blankets on the bed and went to sleep. At 3:30am I got a phone call. For anyone who has read though my website, you would know my father just got out of the hospital and my sister is nine months pregnant. My mother and uncle also just got out of the hospital. I was fearing the worst. It was my dad. "Are you warm enough?" was what he wanted to know. I told him I was. He said he wasn't sure if he should call or come over to check on us. That was when I said to my husband after my dad had hung up, that if the power wasn't on the next night we would be spending it with them. Oh how I hoped the power would be back on. I don't get along with my mother and I was glad to grow up and move out of the house, to be an adult. I would have to swallow my pride and move in with the parents so I wouldn't worry about my father.
The next day, my husband traveled to Bangor. He was late in comming home. When I arrived at my parents house the next night, he had just gotten to the house to start to warm it up. By the time I realized he wouldn't be coming over for almost an hour, my father had gone to bed. I was pretty sure I could go home and sleep in my own bed and he wouldn't worry or hopefully even know. I had called Centeral Maine Power and asked about my power situation. It took me many phone calls to actually talk to a person. I reached the switch board operator and I asked to speak to a human being. She said she was just the operator and she could connect me. They said they were working on the circut that day. She wouldn't tell me when it would be fixed, but at least she didn't tell me that it wasn't going to be fixed like I had heard some people say. Apparently they are out of transformers and it could be as long as two weeks before they get any in. Once again I hoped/knew the power would be back on by morning. When I woke up to a cold house I was cheezed to say the least! My reserves of strength was running thin. Emotionally I was spent. I had had enough. I wanted my life back. Work at the grocery store was a nightmare. My boss decided that her Siberian husky dogs couldn't live with out her and she kept going home early with out covering her shift, leaving us short handed and swamped. I just wanted it to be over! I couldn't see the hold up. I mean the storm was over on Friday and Saturday the world looked as it should, I just was with out electricity. All my my city, to my knowledge, had power. It was very frustrating.
Wednesday, I went to my first job. My husband was going to stop by the house to turn the generator on for a little while, because the foretasted high for the day was 11 below. When he got home, he saw CMP trucks on the street!!!! He had to leave before the power was turned back on, but it looked good. I stayed after work to exercise, and when I got home at 2, we had POWER! oh it felt good. I turned the heat way up, just in case, and because it felt good! I checked my e-mail and had 76 messages. I spent the afternoon assuring everyone I was ok and then I fell asleep.
Once again they are predicting a winter storm. This time it is snow. They say there will be some freezing rain, but hopefully it wont be so bad. CMP brought crews in from 5 states. When we got power back there were still 98,000 people with out power. I believe the number started at half a million. I wish God speed to the crews to get as many people on before this hits.