Like most folks I know, we weren’t really prepared for the magnitude of damage left in the wake of this week’s ice storm.
We were warned. We saw it coming. But none were prepared for the walloping blow that landed on the Augusta area.
I recalled the last ice storm we had about a decade ago that left us shivering without power for a few days. I figured the roads would be icy, some tree limbs would fall and the power grid would go dark, but I admit that what happened caught me flat-footed.
I worked Wednesday as the storm swept in while my wife held down the fort at home, hunkered down in a cold house with four stir-crazy children and three pathetic dogs. The power went out at 10 a.m., so she boiled water on the gas stove all day to keep the chill at bay while our furnace took its unplanned vacation.
We ate soup that night by candlelight and played cards with flashlights. All the while outside, sleet continued to pelt down, piling on a thick coating of ice that worked a slow, steady execution of the weakest trees, one by one.
When I finally sank into the couch on Wednesday evening, the house was quiet and dark, lit only by a few flickering candles.
We lay there in the living room – far away from the rear of the house where a couple of tall creaking pines still loomed in our back yard.
The night stillness was intermittently broken by the snap, crunch and boom of falling timber. A few times I got up to investigate some of the more thunderous crashes, but I dared not venture out too far for fear of what waited in the darkness overhead.
When the cold morning dawned, the scene outside was as close to apocalyptic as I ever want to see. Crumpled and shattered tree limbs lay everywhere. Our house suffered a couple of glancing blows (probably because we cut down about 10 pine trees several years ago), but our neighbors were not so lucky.
Roofs were battered and punctured up and down the block. Windows were smashed and cars crunched under heavy limbs, dropped like splinter bombs from 80 feet in the air.
Luckily, no one was hurt. Neighbors being neighbors, we helped where we could, commiserated where we couldn’t and made plans to survive the coming days until power and our normal lives could be restored.
While I write this I sit listening to the police scanner in the newsroom. The crack and crackle of steady radio traffic reminds me that my troubles are small compared to what is happening across the area. I can hardly imagine the scores of people -- police, firefighters, utilty workers, and others -- who will be away from their families and homes while working night and day for our benefit.
Listening, I resolve to be patient and thankful for all that I have, and to say a prayer for those who toil around the clock to deliver us from still more cold, dark nights ahead.