It was the calmness of it all that most people remember.
After the Ice Storm of 1998 had left its wrath, the usual sounds of village and rural life disappeared.
They were instead replaced by the familiarity of tree limbs snapping under the weight of what had rained down from the Heavens. Then it was the sound of those branches hitting the ground as the ice shattered like crystal.
Those who lived through it know that the storm came with no howling winds, no rivers of floodwater, the Earth below didn’t shake, nor did thunder clap in the sky.
No, it was a steady pattern of rain that fell into a weather system too cold to allow it to evaporate.
In the dark of night that followed the light of day, it was the groans of burdened trees, the buzz of downed power lines or the hiss of a transformer just before explosion.
It was anything but noiseless, but it was the blackness that hid the impact well.
The storm’s effect, however, couldn’t be hidden.
Thirty-five people, including four in Ontario, died as a result, succumbing to hypothermia, a house fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and falling ice. Almost 1,000 were injured in car accidents, or by falling limbs.
The storm inflicted billions in damage, forcing countless insurance claims, and crippling dairy farmers in both Ontario and Quebec who were forced to dump milk when their power was off.
As you’ll read in this week’s Winchester Press, the Thurler family in South Mountain had a barn buckle under the weight of the ice and snow, killing some of the cattle inside and leaving others gravely injured.
It was no doubt enough to make the family want to give up, but they didn’t. Today, theirs is a premiere farm in Dundas County.
Darkness such as this also gave way to lighter moments, such as Gary and Diane Annable welcoming the arrival of their son, Thomas, in the moments after a back-up generator restored power at Winchester District Memorial Hospital.
Those who lived through it will never, ever, forget.
Survival for some was no doubt backbreaking, but it proved the mettle of the community. It showed that when there is a need, mobilization will happen.
Never back down.