I remember: The 1998 ice storm


• I remember the second week of January 1998, as we lived through the great ice storm.

• I remember that this was the first winter in our house in Pierrefonds. At the time, our daughters were 6 and 5. We also had a corn snake named Gumby. Need I remind you that reptiles don’t like cold?

• I remember driving to work on the 520 east, when a truck going in the opposite direction lost an inch-thick sheet of ice the size of a king-size bed which crossed the median and smashed into the car ahead of me. Fortunately the driver made it ok but his windshield was all cracked.

• I remember my wife calling me shortly afterward to tell me that the power was out and that she was pissed because she had a big laundry in the washing machine.

• I remember walking around the neighborhood with my daughters later that night and seeing dozens of blue flashes on the horizon as all of the transformers in the West Island were shorting out.

• I remember moving to my mom’s townhouse on Ile des soeurs along with my brother and his family who were living in Kirkland at the time.

• I remember the next day as the four of us driving west on the 20 to check on the house. A foot of water had accumulated in the curved tunnel at the entrance of the 13 and I plowed into it at about 25 kph. I still wonder how I managed to maintain control of the car and not slam into the wall.

• I remember when I was walking toward my mother’s townhouse with my oldest daughter ahead of me and hearing a loud creaking sound coming from above her. An ice-laden branch gave way and fell toward her. I jumped ahead and essentially body-slammed my daughter into the snow bank thus shielding her from the branch and large pieces of ice that fell on my back. I’ll never forget the faces of my wife and mother who saw everything from the kitchen window.

• I remember Black Friday, the third day of freezing rain, when the power finally went out on Ile des soeurs and most of the city. My bother’s son was getting sick so he decided to drive up to my father’s place in Quebec city while we moved back out to our cold and dark house. At the time, the authorities were considering evacuating the island since they almost lost water pressure and were worried about all of those people using candlelights. It truly was our darkest hour.

• I remember the four of us sleeping in the living room and waking up every two hours to put a log into the fireplace.

• I remember waking up one night to the sound of chunks of ice falling off the branches of our large oak tree onto our victorian windows. Trying to find some cardboard and duck tape in the middle of the cold night was not fun.

• I remember wearing my corn snake under my clothes to keep him warm.

• I remember running out of firewood. My brother had an extra cord of wood in his garage but I had to get into his neighbor’s house to get his spare key. I almost pissed in my pants when I saw a police car driving down the street.

• I remember seeing a huge convoy of trucks from Con Edison coming up on the 40.

• I remember being invited to my brother-in-law’s appartment on the Plateau the day he got his power back. He made enough food to feed an army.

• I remember kissing an electrical engineer from Connecticut when I saw him walking down my street after 6 days without power.

• I remember this period as one of the most stressful of my life.

• I also remember that we got out of it fairly easy, being without power for only 6 days and sleeping only half of those in the cold. Some people in the dark triangle went a full month without electricity.

• The following autumn, I bought so much firewood, that it has lasted us to this day.

2 Comments so far

  1. Stephen (unregistered) on January 7th, 2008 @ 12:51 am

    Wow Andre, I felt that story big time.. I just moved here a few months back so am experiencing my 1st Montreal winter which actually does feel a bit different than my old home of Toronto. I hope I never have to experience this though.. no car, no family here.. man..

  2. Tamara (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

    All I remember, was that I was far away, worried about my phone-girlfriend who lived in Montreal, while I was living in Mexico city.

    It is amazing that was 10 years ago already!

    And Im glad you and your family were able to go through the whole experience in 1 piece. Though your post shows a very interesting story unfolding day by day, I found it even exciting!

    Too bad for those who are not here to remember or dont even want to.

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