1997 East Coast Ice Storm
In Canada, so the story goes, we see a lot of ice. For most people, it is in the freezer, in cold drinks or at the hockey arena or the curling rink. Well, for 48 hours in February of 1997 there was ice everywhere. High power transmission lines and towers were folded in half under the weight of 3 inches of ice. Eighty percent of the maple forests near Ottawa were destroyed, crushed and broken by the freezing rains that blanketed the eastern part of Canada and the U.S. Entire communities were without power, running water, heat and telephones. The local, provincial and federal resources could not keep up. This was an event that proved how unprepared and unresilient our citizens and infrastructure were to face a n event like this. The federal government activated the military, who moved in to provide portable power, shelters, assistance to overworked local resources and friendly hugs and hot coffee. Unfortunately, the government forgot to take care of the military, many of whom worked 95 hours straight on their missions without rest. Communications weere disorganized - a reporter went on television and radio to declare "The disaster is over. We are now getting back to normal." This broadcast was heard by several farmers who moved into their barns to milk dairy cattle by hand, by themselves, power from aging tractors barely lighting the way. These folks were never contacted by any emrgency aid providers until they contacted the radio stations and threatened to slaughter their cattle and kill themselves because they could'nt do it anymore.
We failed during that time. The main mission of my organization is to do my best to see that it never happens again.