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Greg Michaels’ Memories of ‘The Ice Storm of ’98′

Frosty Moose Caboose!

Here we are again, similar to how things were in that 2nd week of January back in 1998. This ice storm isn’t quite the monster that the ‘Ice Storm in ’98’ was but it’s hitting some just as hard. Pockets of the state are out of power now, and I’m sure the numbers will rise before they start falling.

So far power here at work is still up and running, however the transmitters are down. While things here at work are quiet I thought I’d share a few memories of the 1998 ice storm.

First off, maybe I’m wrong but it seemed that the ice storm of 1998 sort of crept up on us. Yes the forecast called for ice but the mist and showers lingered on for days and I’m not sure if that was known ahead of time. Could have been forecasted correctly but like today I was busy worrying about everything storm related back then.

I was working for a station in Auburn on Washington St. and living at 28 Weston St. in Augusta at the time. As far as work was concerned I have two bigger memories from that ice storm. One memory, at the height of the storm I drove in to the station for my shift and like this storm the roads were in pretty decent shape but the real issues were the downed power line and trees down over the roads. On that drive in, I remember having to go the wrong way on Washington St which if you don’t know is divided double lane thoroughfare with a 55 mph speed limit. I don’t remember who told me it would be fine to go against traffic, whether it was a flagger or an officer blocking the road but anyway I had to take this road in the dark and dodge tree limbs and all kinds of other crazy stuff for about a half mile to get to work.

As I’m crawling along at about 20-25 mph, I see in the distance what I think are headlights from a car coming at me, at this point I’m getting nervous and hoping they see me and control their vehicle while chugging along in the right lane (as apposed to left). As it turns out it wasn’t a car’s headlights it was two snowmobile headlights. Before they get to me and presumably pass, I’m in the parking lot of the station getting out of the car and getting ready for the generator powered evening show.

The other big memory about that radio station during ‘The Ice Storm of ‘98 is, the transmitter fell. We were up and running on another stick within hours if I recall but that’s one huge issue if you’re trying broadcast a frequency. You need a stick. Over time, the station raised a new one but it was kind of a crazy scene. Back then we were still 24/7 with CD players and carts. We all pulled together and made it all work even though some of the station employees were without power of 2-3 weeks.

On the personal side, we at 28 Weston were without power for about 8 hours. Still to this day I feel somewhat guilty for my lucky fortune at that time. I’m guessing it was because we were on the same part of the grid as the Capitol and the Kennebec County Jail. I did invite friends over for a warm up, shower, and or a place to crash, etc. just to help out and keep good karma.

The devastation was unreal that January. I remember distinctly the sound of the popping transformers, the creaking of the tree branches; I also remember having to chisel the ice off of my little Suzuki Swift on an hourly basis. You know, that ice storm ruined my car window. It never rolled up or down correctly after that. The car is long gone but I’ll never forget that.

No, this storm isn’t the animal ‘The Ice Storm of ’98’ was (so far anyway) but it certainly feels similar. Maybe I’m just scarred from the experience from almost 16 years ago, but I hope it ends when the weather geeks say it will and that’s tonight.

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