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Here is a personal account of the North American Ice Storm of 1998 from Cheryll in New York. It caused substantial damage to trees and the electrical infrastructure of upper New York (including Canada). Millions of people were left without power for days to several weeks.

A Wake Up Call

"It was January `98, a full year before the Y2K scare. People had started to talk about the possibilities of Y2K problems - a few had started to plan and prepare.

It is January, a time you should see snow, not hear freezing rain on the window. But the freezing rain kept coming. My husband and I sat watching TV. Soon….no TV - probably the weather. Oh well. I finished a load of clothes (kids needed basketball uniforms), and got ready for bed. I did fill a few 5 gallon pails with water just in case.

I awake by my wind up alarm clock to a very, very still house. Get up, oh no, no power. Light a lantern, heat some water to wash with and call school. Oh, no phone. I guess there is no school today. No electricity, no TV(entertainment), little heat.

Let’s think. We do have food. Have been canning and putting some supplies away. We do have a gas grill, a way to cook food and heat water. Now what? Make coffee and serve kids cereal, must use up what is in the refrigerator.

My husband tries to get to work, soon Replaces out the police are turning people around because roads are closed.

My daughter, her husband and 3 children arrive on the door step. We have an add on wood stove, and if we keep the fire low we will have a minimum of heat. Our two sons go to Massena to get a generator - generators are in short supply. It is COLD. They wait in line 3 hours and both get a generator.

This storm was said to be the storm of the century. During the 21 days without phone and the 14 days without power, we learned to be self sufficient. Canton had 4 inches of freezing rain between January 5th and 10th.

During this time I learned the importance of being prepared. Food, water, warm clothes and blankets, backup heat, backup lights are a must. Items such as board games and cards are also important. I did manage to wash clothes after we got the generator. To dry clothes we strung a clothes line in the cellar. I discovered hygiene products are also important to store.

Because of this experience both my husband and I think it a must to be prepared. We appreciate all the items we get from Emergency Essentials - they are of great quality and easy to store."

Cheryll, New York

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