Ice Storm 1998 was just the beginning of disasters for the Chateauguay Valley. Global climatic fluctuations, blamed on "El Nino", wreaked havoc locally.
In January, a freezing rain fell for several days paralyzing a corridor along the Quebec-USA border that also struck Kingston, Ontario and Watertown, New York. Trees and utility poles snapped under the weight of the accumulated ice. Fallen electrical transmission towers left rural regions without heat for up to 6 weeks during the coldest period of winter.
When the lights went out and the furnace quit at our home in Chateauguay, Quebec, our family with a 9 month-old, sought refuge for 11 days at the home of friends who have gas stoves. We ate well by using up our freezer meats that would have otherwise spoiled without power, and by cooking outdoors on the gas barbecue grill.
French and English neighbors put aside political differences during the crisis and worked together in survival mode. Many heroic and generous acts took place during the ice storm to provide food and shelter as electrical workers and the Canadian Armed Forces worked overtime to rebuild the power grid.
We were all weary from digging out driveways with picks and shovels, draining water pipes so they wouldn't freeze, caring for cold pets and infants and the elderly. Yet, I forced myself to get out and photograph as much of this historic event as possible.