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  • Please WAIT! Then SCROLL DOWN for THE '98 ICE STORM THAT AFFECTED MILLIONS IN THE NORTHCOUNTRY.    [ Are you in this picture? ]
    Volunteer radio operator listens on Emergency frequency. Ice storm devastates Northcountry
    CLICK & GO!  (On this page.)  Wednesday, January 7, 1998 The power is out!   The trees are cracking. It's scary.   Keeping the water pipes from freezing.   Bottled drinking water and wash water from the river.   No school.   Here comes the Army.   Generator problems.   Waiting for the tree crews.   Source information, Page Credits: Photos from Lake Placid News. Text by Fourpeaks webmaster.   Photo Captions for this page.  More pages in An Adirondack Miscellany:  Newspaper reports, Magazine articles and Book notices.    More About Jay  & The Covered Bridge.
    EZ-Load [Click on Photo For Full Size Image]
    The Story. Wednesday, January 7, 1998, 2:00AM: Power outage at the Stone House. No lights on at the little house in back. We stumble around the unfamiliar darkness, find a flashlight and call the NYSEG emergency number. The new automated reporting system has some flaws, so we wait to speak to a human. The voice when we get one sounds like it could be coming from Anywhere, USA, not the local Plattsburgh reporting we're accustomed to.
    Emergency line crews repair wires. Most of them from outside the area."There are other reports in your area."
    "Crews are working." "Service will be restored within three weeks."
    The last was incredible.
    We didn't know then that millions had already been without power in Quebec for days.
    The wood furnace at the Stone House needs power for the electric air supply--useless in an emergency.
    We wait till morning.
                                                                                                 

    A old maple explodes in Jay.When we venture out in the early light it's scary--extensive damage to the pine grove is immediately apparent. Boughs are hanging almost straight down. Many trees already appear like individual dry sticks. The crackling noise they make as they break up is like thunder--loud gunshot sounds at regular intervals.

    Fallen trees block highway traffic.The generator is at Camp Barn and we go up Stonehouse Road in the jeep to get it, dodging around the bigger stuff and crashing through small brush. The road is completely littered with forest debris, but we never let up on the gas, using the momentum of the vehicle--fortunately fitted with chains--to jump over the limbs across the road. The three of us--we needed Murray to help--load the generator and head back fast as we can--limbs crashing around us--following the path we made on the way up. Broke the window glass and split the old front fender jumping over a 10-inch maple. Murray says it was the "best jeep ride ever!" You can't figure kids.
    The National Guard controls traffic.With three buildings to keep from freezing--New Barn, Old Barn and The Stone House--we make the decision to move into the Old Barn which we can heat with wood and use the generator a few hours a day to keep the other two from freezing. Greg and Pat from the Upper Jay fire department come over and connect the furnace wire to a lead cord for us. It quickly become a routine--hauling the generator through ice and deep snow the several hundred feet between.
    We empty the refrigerators, moving the food over in boxes to the truck tailgate in the Old Barn garage--a good enough cooler--and gather together all the candles, flashlights and batteries we can find. The kids move in their books, CD's with a (fortunately available) portable player.
    Fire Dept. control center in Upper Jay.Water? We get together all our five gallon water cans, take them down to the Upper Jay Fire Department and fill them with river water. Their emergency generator is working, supplying full power. Drinking water? Cases of bottled spring water and we take some. What's happening? Emergency volunteers from downstate are helping out clearing trees and powering up homes with portable generators on loan. There's free food and shelter for those who need it. The control center is a busy place. A radio operator from downstate sets up in the big garage.
    Ice covers the woods.By the third day we realize we're in for a long stay. Collecting the firewood we have at the house and New Barn, it's less than a cord. But there's more at the Camp Barn. We head up midmorning and get stopped halfway by a tangle of limbs we just can't ride over or get through. We walk up the rest of way, stepping around, through and over the brush and fallen limbs. It's possible. We go back for the chainsaw at the woodshed and begin cutting away at the tangle. Every once in a while there's a loud cracking noise and limbs are crashing down--sometimes closer that we'd like. We give up after half an hour or so, realizing that more is coming down all over and we could get blocked in. No room to turn. We back our way down. We hope the wood holds up. Freezing rain on and off for three days.
    School is out for the duration.No school of course. By the fourth day all precipitation has stopped. We get into a routine. Bring the food out to the garage in the morning and bring it in at night so it doesn't freeze. Move the generators back and forth and run them twice a day. Fill the water jugs and get dry ice and drinking water at the Upper Jay Fire Department and always--ask when we'll get the power back.

    The <a name=Army moves in and fills a parking lot.">End of the first week the Army moves into the Fire House, setting up a row of cots in the garage. They're a fuel supply group. A volunteer work crew from just south of Albany shows up and starts to clear Stonehouse Road. The crew chief isn't sure how much there is to do and walk up with him. By next day it's done. He says he'd like to come back to hunt bear and I say ok! We drive up--easily this time and inspect the road in to camp. Bill Lincoln sends Tom over the next day with the loader and he clears into The Cabin and the Camp Barn. Lot's of firewood now!
    Governor Pataki visits Wilmington.With all the hours on it, the generator gives some problems. Hidden bolts loosen and the carburetor starts to work loose. Found it and fixed it. The Auto/Start switch went bad and shorted out. Just stopped using it. Fix it later. Then it stopped altogether. Plug ok? Changed it. Then we heard of a DEC mechanic over at the Fire House. Brought it over and he found a bad filter. Serviced the whole machine. No charge. Thank you, DEC!
    The AuSable was full the whole time.By the twelfth day most places along the highway had their power back on. But not us. We heard the Governor visited Wilmington. We drove over there to find a NYSEG supervisor to see what was going on, but Max Hunt said they weren't around. We'd stop the linemen on the road and ask, but they didn't know more than what they were supposed to be doing in the next few hours. Somehow we found NYSEG had supervisors in Lewis and we got a phone number for it. We gave it to our next doo neighbor, Nathan Farb, too. I guess we both started calling the same time.
    Army helicopters search for people in distress.That got results. The man said he'd send people out as soon as they got back in. They came and got up on the poles testing for breaks. Next day a tree crew came working along the highway and up Stonehouse Road. Then line crews made repairs--we couldn't tell what it was. 11:00 AM Wednesday January 14 we had power back. We heard on the radio that people on the back roads were still without power and road contact with the rest of the world. They were told to make an 'H' symbol outside with colored objects so the helicopters could see them. The water pump wouldn't work and Martin Coolidge had to come out. But that's another story.
    EZ-Load [Click on Photo For Full Size Image]
      (L. to R. & T. to B.)
    • Volunteer radio operator listens on Emergency frequency.
    • Emergency line crews repair wires. Most of them from outside the area.
    • A old maple seems to have exploded in Jay.
    • Fallen trees block highway traffic.
    • The National Guard controls traffic.
    • Fire Dept. control center in Upper Jay.
    • Ice covers the woods.
    • School is out for the duration.
    • The Army moves in and fills a parking lot.
    • Governor Pataki visits Wilmington.
    • The AuSable was full the whole time.
    • Army helicopters search for people in distress.

      .Are you in this picture? CLICK HERE to find out. 
      Are you in this picture? Fourpeaks hosts now welcome paying guests to a 700-acre rest and playground for vacations in the Adirondack Great Camp tradition. Couples appreciate Fourpeaks secluded settings. Outdoor loving families have fun exploring our accessible wilderness. Folks with dogs enjoy the open spaces to run their pets. A private nature rereat. For a vacation away from it all.    Are you in this picture?  CLICK HERE to find out!    [More about this at Frequently Asked Questions.]

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      Photos on This Page are Reproduced With Permission
      From the January 16, 1998 issue of the
      Lake Placid News
      Established In 1905
      Catherine Moore, Publisher
      Staff Photographers: Rob Fountain, Andy Flynn, Thomas Abello and Vincent Fallica. (Vincent is our neighbor in the house in back of Nathan Farb, and he was out every morning before light to take these photos.)
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      Text on this page by Martin Schwalbaum, Fourpeaks owner-manager and webmaster. Comments? Email YourAdirondackGuide@4peaks.com.