Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ice Storm '98

Ice Storm ´98

This is a collection of stories or letters students wrote for me to convey messages and to explore their feelings about the Ice Storm of1998.I  was living in Osgoode and we were without power for 11 days. Our street had 3 hydro posts down and it took awhile to get our power back, despite the efforts of teams and teams of Hydro crews, imported from other regions, working long, long hours. We ate in the Osgoode Recreation Association (RA)hall, served by the mitary and volunteers with power who lived in the city of Ottawa. We were grateful for a warm place to eat and use thefacilities. Our house was on town water. We had a pellet stove which we used to try and keep the pipes from freezing. It was less than adequate heat and we had to dump antifreeze in our plumbing.
My son I sent to live with his father (my ex), along with the cat. Our food we should have left in the freezer as it was very very cold and would not have thawed. But I sent food along to my ex-husband and his wife, who had power in a nearby suburb. Eventually, we moved in with neighbours who had a fireplace in a large, open concept living room. It was still rather cold and we slept overnight with a friend in Ottawa. Oce the schools opened up we were grateful to get back togehter, talk about our experiences, share our fears, nightmares, and funny stories. Many families found generators and were able to manage in their homes. They brought neighbours over for food, shelter and warmth. Those with animals to care for worried over keeping them warm and fed and sheltered. It was a major task. Everyone stepped up to the plate, however, and our local store: general store, LCBO, gas station, video store, had brought in extra batteries and generators where they could.
I recall rising that first morning very early on. It must have been 5:00 a.m. and I could see a transformer sparking blue in that gruesome otherworld silence. As I stood by the window, I saw a firehall truck come by. Our precious firefighters, who worked long and hard caring for us all, were driving down the street with beacons and searchlights looking for dangerous lines across the road and damage. The sounds were frightening: cracking of branches, and later on the cracking noises of whole trees falling and smashing to the ground. It was dark for days, as it rained all week and there were no lights on anywhere nearby. As the thermometer dipped below freezing last in the week after the rainfall, it was a damp kind of cold!
Our daily trips to and from the city, once we moved in with friends, were very emotional. Many, many crews were working on the hydo lines. The ice that caked the trees was frightening. The wilted hydro towers, trees cracked by the weight of the ice,workers toiling in the wet, rain and the frigid temperatrues were disheartening and disturbing to see. I still get the heebie-jeebies when we have freezing rain and prepare accordingly. Now, living in Muskoka, my new husband and I have a seamless generator. For this I am grateful and I feel much more secure. The hurricane or tornado that hit us August 2, 2006, left much damage and further assaulted my sensibilities.
But that is my story.
I taught these students at Rideau Valley Middle School and by the Spring the pain was not over. They were concerned, with getting their property cleaned up and dead branches cut up and prepared for pick-up. We were experiencing lots of scratches and bruises but the worked hard and learned to work in family teams to help achieve a goal. Students were strong in having survived -20 degree C temperatures in January, 1998. It was marvellous how well we worked together, supoprted one another and healed from this process. There is much research to support this strategy (autobiography in therapy) and I laud my students who shared their work. At the time we even created artwork and gif to put with our stories. They have since been lost as I changed schools, school boards, computers and regions.
The process was one which we developed over time. We wrote first drafts, edited and revised second and third drafts, with the help of peers and volunteers. Eventually, we posted them on the school website (they were since removed). It was a moving process that took months and helped in the healing process. Much the same as the process used in The Freedom Writers, by Erin Gruwell, with a lot less pain, but as much impact.
Class of 1998 Jennifer Jilks (Mrs. Martin in those days!

These were grade 6 students in class 6-6, my homeroom at the time.

Ice Storm Letter

Hello. My name is Alasdair. I'm in Grade 6 and 11 years old. I have two sisters and two parents. My interests are Star Trek and math.
The Ice Storm of ´98 was horrible. Trees were encrusted with ice, which caused them to break and fall. The same thing happened to power lines, which resulted in no power for 13 days. In some places, it lasted even longer. People either stood at home and froze, went to special shelters, or, in my case, went to a relatives´ home that had power. Animals probably either starved or died quite a bit.
The clean-up was even worse. It had to start around March, when it was much warmer.During the ice storm, people already put up new power lines, so that was out of the way. But we still had to cut down trees, or tree branches, that were damaged in the ice storm. Birds nested in the wood piles, but they were scared off by cars that drove near the piles on the side of the road. The storm also caused lots of flooding in Ontario, Quebec, and a bit of New York.

by Alasdair


Dear Greg,

This winter we suffered from a great storm called the ice storm. The trees are down, the yards are messy and all the birds are losing their homes. I am doing a lot of cleaning and I didn´t have much free time. But the good news is most of the workers are starting to clean up all the trees. One more thing, we also lost power for two weeks. That means no T.V, no radio, no Nintendo, no food, or light, can you imagine? But at least we survived.

Our school was closed and we were off for two weeks. There were not many trees down at our school but it still looked different.
You might be interested in our hockey system. It is great it gives every kid a chance to do something they love.

by Jordan


I Survived The Ice Storm of ´98

It is an experience I will never forget. I will start with the bad things first, my yard was demolished,there was a huge clean up, no water and no electricity. It was like the pioneer days.
During the ice storm you could hear trees clashing and clanging at night. It was really scary. Now for the good stuff , when are neighbours trees fell down we helped pick them up, so they did the same for us .
During the ice storm my mom worked at the fire hall and we donated food to the fire hall, and people would come to the fire hall and have a good meal. We ended the ice storm by a big warm BONFIRE. So I'm proud to say , I survived the ice storm of ´98.
The Chilling End

by Erika


Hi,
How are you? I don´t know if you heard that we had a big ice storm here in January. When the power first went off on January 5th nobody really thought anything of it. When my grandma told me that it might be off until January 8 it boggled my mind. If we had known the power would be off for the next two weeks we wouldn´t have believed it.
Everthing was covered with about 3 or 4 inches of ice. Whenever we went outside we could hear branches cracking. Community Centers opened up for people to come get food or maybe even sleep there.
The effects of the ice storm are bad. Trees are cracked and broken. Some houses and barns were damanged when trees fell on them. People died from cold. Some died by carbon dioxide poisoning. Others died when thier house caught fire by burning candles. People lost income because they couldn't go to work.
What we are doing now is cleaning up branches. Pretty much every spare minute of my dad´s life is spent up in a tree with a chainsaw. Yesterday they came and took away our branches but what will we do with the rest?

by Beth


The Ice Storm

1998 it was the worst ice storm that many people can remember. Hydro workers worked night and day. My family was fortunate in three ways. First of all, we only had little shrubs and bushes and not many branches fell off. As many other houses who had many big trees had thousands of branches to pick up. The trees were covered in ice one inch thick which made it much harder to pick up. On my deck there was ice one foot thick.
The second way why I was fortunate: many of the villages had telephone poles break. Some people had telephone poles fall on their houses. In my subdivision, all the wires are underground. People were in the dark for a long time. We were in the dark for two weeks.
The third way why I was fortunate was we have a wood stove which would heat the whole house. We also cooked on it. We had Coleman lanterns which came in handy. So we were lucky. I guess Mother Nature wanted to show us the old days.

by Philip


ICE STORM ´98

Hey, it´s Courtney I am almost 12 years old. I am in grade 6 and in Rideau Valley Middle School. I like to listen to music and hang out with my friends. I have alot of friends.
So what did you do in the ice storm? I lived with a wood stove and cooked my food on that .
Are you going to clean up? cuz if I do I get a pool, well I already have a one but we didn´t get it yet. So did you lose you power for along time? I did I lost it for maybe three weeks, my sister lost it for four.
P.S. HOPE YOU CLEAN UP THE ICE STORM.

FROM COURTNEY


The Ice Storm

The ice storm went on for a couple of weeks .Trees and tree branches fell constantly.You could go skating on your back yard .School was closed because the road was icy. Animals died because they froze.
Many trees died. Telephone wires broke poles fell. Plants collapsed.
We had to fix the house. We had to collect trees and branches cut down. We had to fix poles and wires.

by Andrew


Hi! I´m Matt M. and I´m in grade six. I like football, racing, and sports. I have 3 brothers Nick 10, Joe 8, Brody 4. My mom and dad are named Jen and Dave. I also have a dog named Balloo. He is still a puppy.
My school building is huge. We have almost 500 kids in this school. My subjects are L.A., S+S, Phys. Ed., science, arts, math, and French. We have 5 classes a day. In arts I´m in design and tech. About 3 months ago we had ICE STORM ´98 and my family was without power for almost 3 weeks. It was just plain scary, knowing that you couldn´t go outside without hearing a branch crack. Luckily we didn´t have a lot of trees to cleanup.

BYE!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Emily,

I guess you haven´t heard about the icestorm from me.
Well it was January 6 and I was sleeping and the tree above my room was falling on the roof. I ran into my parent´s room because I couldn´t fall asleep. I looked out the window and saw hydro trucks and weird lights coming from my neighbor´s yard. I fell asleep on the floor with my sleeping bag. I saw weird lights and wondered what they were. Dad thought that they were strobe lights on top of our roof. I went to see what time it was but I couldn´t read the clock. THE POWER WAS OUT!!!!!!!! In the morning we made supper, I mean breakfast, on the barbeque. Oh and Dad almost got hit by trees that were falling towards the deck. Almost 4 days in we called Uncle Mike to see if he could find someone that had a generator. He did! He skidooed into the hunt camp and brought it out to Grandpa´s house in Arnprior. We finally got our power back on January 18 at 7:30 pm.
The effects were bad we had a World War 3 in our yard. Mum said that we should have had Evan down on the March Break to help.
The clean up is worse. It has taken from February to now. We are still working !!!

Bye, Your Cousin, Stephanie


It was dark, everything was dark not a light on in the town. The ice storm had taken out all power and we were left in the dark. Nothing to do but wait. Wait for power, hot food and water. People had different ways of coping. I handled it like this.
In the morning I would play with the dog and wait for B.B.Q. eggs. In the afternoon, I would go out side and look at the damage. At night I would wait in the dark until I was so tired that I would half to go to sleep.
All the people were affected by the ice storm, but the way was it caused, some say El Niño and some say just bad luck. I guess we will never know.

By:Matt


Dear Great Grandma Wilk

Hi! How is everything down in California? I can bet that you are nice and warm. I am writing to you to tell you all about Ice Storm ´98. You’re lucky because you just missed it. You guys were sitting in the nice, warm sun, while we were sitting in the pitch-black [practically] almost freezing to death. But then we got some kerosene heaters and warmed up a little bit. Then we were invited over to my other grandma’s house, where they had a generator. Almost all of my relatives were there. My two aunts, one of my uncles, and 5 of my cousins. With all of that body heat, we kept warm. Sometimes we went to warm up our house, and to warm up our dog. We cooked our food on a Coleman stove. To warm up our house we had to wait a half-hour for the heater to actually warm up. One touch and the heater would blow out. My sister knocked it out 4 times.
I hope you like our stories and letters. We found that the ice storm affected all of us most profoundly. The clean up later in spring, brought back memories, as well as wearing a lot of us out! This letter/story writing exercise helped release some of those pent up feelings. The house in which I was living was out of power for eleven days and it was the most stressful time one could imagine!

Autobiography as therapy

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