My bitter memories of the devastating ice storm
BY SULTAN JESSA
This storm of January 1998 was described as the “Ice Storm of the Century.”
We had freezing rain for five days when up to 100 millimeters fell.
More than two million homes and five million people were plunged into darkness for up to a month in the dead of winter.
Returning from holidays in sunny Cuba, my wife Rosila and I were struck by the eerie feeling as we were landing in Montreal and to our former Seaway community of Cornwall.
Another 900 were injured due to storm related incidents.
At the time, I worked for the Standard-Freeholder.
Mail was not delivered for several days.
But, our daily newspaper like many others published to keep area residents about what was going on.
The hour-long trip took two and half to three hours.
We had a choice to go the warm shelter or freeze at home.
Luckily, we had a superb fire place with lots of fire wood that kept us going for several days.
We cooked in the fire place and slept in the living room, thanks to the fully loaded freezer we had at home.
This we thought was better than going to a shelter.
We did survive but the experience was something to cherish for a long time.
A hard cover book, with contributions from many newspapers, was put together.
And, we even had warm sweat shirts with three newspaper headlines printed.
Two of the newspapers had front page stories written by me.
Hundreds of power lines were toppled due to ice coating.
Crews had to work round the clock to restore power.
Blackouts lasted for days.
More than three million people were affected by power outages.
There was chaos, death, destruction and darkness for days.
The ice storm left many vulnerable, isolated and helpless.
I vividly remember thousands of Canadian Armed Forces personnel being deployed in one of the largest peace time mission going from house to house to help those in need.
The storm paralyzed everything.
Thousands of trees that collapsed had to be replaced.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated more than $1.5 billion in claims was paid.