Ashing Through The Snow
Well, looks like I/we have survived the mother of all storms, also known as…”Snowmageddon 2020″. Yup, Mother Nature and one of her biggest ass-kicking storms yet, brought upward to 70, 80, and over a 100 cms of snow. This definite storm of the century blew in last Friday and didn’t stop until sometime mid-Saturday. Gifting us with an unprecedented shit-ton of snow. Enough to turn your stomach each time you peer out the window. There has been a state of emergency in effect all week because we got so much. I do believe it’s to be lifted early tomorrow morning. It was that bad to initiate a full week of lockdown. I honestly think I have PTSD from it, in particular from the wind. The wind was the scariest part, I have never experienced high winds that strong before in my entire life. They got close to 200 kms/hr. The windows in the house looked as if they were breathing and every now and again, there was this eerie sound throughout the house like a boat was turning starboard or something. Pair that with the ludacris amount of snow that was constantly falling. Well…
Schools, post-secondary institutions, and the university were shut down right off the hop. I think that happened the day before if I recall correctly. Government offices, businesses, and all things retail had to pull the plug soon after the storm picked up mid-morning. Everything dead in the water, or snow in this case. All ordered to close and to stay closed until further notice. Going outside was no longer an option, for anyone. You would have had to be insane to even want to go out in that blizzard from what I could see from my window. But, I’m sure some did. That crazy person would of had no other choice but to walk anyway because the streets and roadways quickly became off limits. The plows were taken off too which is another whaaaaa?
People were made aware of the conditions and strictly advised to just stay home until the snow could be dealt with. Simple as that. Stay safe, stay home. So, for the last week and since the ban has been in place, every last piece of snow-clearing equipment available on the island has been working around the clock to help dig us out. Slowly allowing life as we knew it to resume again. I’ve been stormbound too of course, tucked away inside waiting this whole thing out with everyone else. Although, I did get the chance to escape on Tuesday as the driving ban was lifted temporarily. For the first time in a few days, people were finally given the opportunity to venture out carefully and mindful. Allowed to commute to open grocery, convenient, and drugstores to buy essentials. Only food and medicines were considered. All other businesses remained closed, it was still a bunch of snow to clear and more not even touched. Getting that chance to go to the store was where I discovered firsthand the fallout of from all the bloody snow. The opportunity to get away from just my area of the city painted a much bigger picture of the complex problem presented for the city and surrounding area as a whole. All that snow in such a short period on top of the snow we had already received since Christmas Eve. Come on. With only a few minutes in the van, I could see right away why we were being held hostage inside our homes. It made perfect sense. Our store run proved that, it was treacherous. The roads, most still impassable and a lot not even an option were all but two cut paths with a patch of pavement seen from time to time. Barely room for a car, you had to pull into driveways to allow someone to get by every 30 seconds. Almost every intersection was like playing individual games of chicken. The traffic lights were no help either with over half not functioning properly. Ryan, my cousin, was with me and provided the ride and the company. We were both amazed with the how much snow there was. The most in our lifetimes. We’d drive on and with each turn get blown away by the random giant snow banks and huge drifts where cars and trucks were assumed to be. It was thing after thing. Then, we both wondered about the store. How many people were we to anticipate? Did we leave the right time? I remember saying, “Please don’t be too many there, please don’t be idiots punching out babies and tripping up old people”. Let’s be civil. Our only focus, making it in and out as quick as possible and surprisingly, it went that way. Must have hit the sweet spot as we were in and out faster than we both thought. Good too, because the last I had looked, our line was starting to head back toward the meat department. Twice!
Packed up and heading back to our respective homes, Ryan and I could see people scattered all over the place. Trying their best to dig themselves out. If not their property, it was lending a hand to the one next to them. Helping any way they could. The sounds of generators, snowblowers, and beeping noises of tractors and trucks, became a dull constant against this wintery backdrop. It was kind of poetic. Only, in reality the snow has done a considerable amount of destruction and had created a whole world of inconvenience. You should take a look for yourself by using this hashtag #nlwx. You’ll see a whole spectrum of the good, the bad, and the completely unreal of a rare Newfoundland winter storm. If you have the time, I suggest you take a look for yourself by clicking the hashtag above.
People lost power, including here at the house for 40 hours. In some places, it only came back yesterday or the day before which is nuts considering what we endured. Some other poor souls had it even worse with their power gone, needing prescriptions, and being physically incapable of getting out of their own homes or apartments. Held captive by the snow and high drifting. Stuck and at the mercy of connecting with a family member or friend to ask for help, or contacting someone who might, like the army. Which happened. The federal government had to step in as well in offering the services of the Canadian Armed Forces. The army soldiers were tasked with helping each emergency call placed by those helpless and in need, especially the sick and elderly. Whatever the request, they did their best to provide it for them. Oxygen tanks, heat sources, food, the list goes on. Most of the calls were simply of those needing access in or out of their property. Something they would have never been able to do by themselves. Seeing the army come through like that was awesome. Nightly reports of those types of stories I think created a huge morale boost. For there has been news segment after news segment of each and every Newfoundlander doing their part to combat the crippling snow. A ripple effect must have begun of generosity as you could see more and more friends, family, and neighbors coming forward in full force joining the cause. One driveway at a time, one hydrant at a time, people were getting it done. Shovels in hand, smiles on their faces and positivity in their hearts. It was inspiring to see that stuff and I think it did it’s best to take our minds off how bad it was there for a spell.
Folks, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to write about the storm. At all. But, then I thought it was best to get it out of my system. Wait! No more systems. Now, I’ve gone and put that in the universe. Great, Ash! Anyways, all I know is that this was an event that I won’t soon forget. Sure, I spoke a few entries ago about the news and how hearing all the bad stuff gave me a case of the winter blues. Now, here I am using a medium to bring you my woes. Thanks for listening by the way. I’m just happy to be brushing all the snow and ice away from my shoulders knowing I survived my very own crisis. Albeit, not to the extent of some of the things that have happened so far in 2020 around the world, though it still moves the needle.
Friends, no matter the circumstances we know that if your not prepared for an emergency it could be bad. Big or small. I have to admit and not without a shade of embarrassment as well, that although we were pretty prepared here at my home, there was more we…I, could have done. Hindsight, right? That’s where it gets a little real for me. I take that responsiblity of being counted on seriously and I like to think I can get us through anything. That storm was bad and like I’ve bragged before, I have been through a few. This one though, had me on my toes. That’s why I also want to be completely done with it. My shortcomings were exposed and that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not happy with how vulnerable it once looked in the height of the storm. It woke me up a bit and I’m not cool with a few things I left to chance. I’ve learned a lot from this for sure. By the same token, I can’t help but recognise that I did show up and I did my part. We ultimately got past it, each of us safe and sound. There’s always a takeaway from an experience like this, the good and the bad. Both of which are important lessons for next time. Like off the top of my head, a dog dryer.
Before I go, there’s been a couple posts where I have commented on being a Newfoundlander. I’m proud of that fact for many reasons. One of those reasons is because I’ve been proven once again of how good the people of Newfoundland and Labrador really are. This past storm was testament to that. Our people stick together in the worst of times and when we are called to action, we show up. There’s something magical about our spirit too, because you don’t necessarily have to be born here either. Cultures from all around the world have chosen Newfoundland as their own home and right away they embrace and reflect that same spirit as well.
You can always count on a Newfoundlander, because when it comes down to it, if we got it…you got it!