Nothing like a good scare for Halloween. But terms like “unprecedented” aren’t usually what we think of when we look back on late October weather. How about “more than a foot of heavy, wet snow?” Or the third largest power outage in the history of electric utility Public Service of New Hampshire?
That’s what we got in October 2011 in our bag of treats or was it the trick part for the weekend preceding Halloween. Heavy snow. Driving wind. Plenty of damage to trees still bearing the colors of late leaf season. And snowmen cropping up in yards next to decorated scarecrows and giant pumpkins.
As we go to press, many local residents are still without power. In recent years (those two power outages that left more customers without electricity than Saturday night’s storm occurred in 2008, due to ice, 2010, due to wind and 2011 due to snow) this year wind and rain, we’ve begun to get the routine down pretty well. Roll your window down on any power less evening as you drive along, and listen to the hum of generators in front of garages and basement doors. What once was an annoying sound is now greeted with welcome it means the lights are on, and better yet, the water is flowing in the pipes.
Towns are quick to set up shelters and warming stations, and local gyms are ready with an offer of free showers. We’ve had plenty of reminders, just as we’ve had plenty of storms to get us ready. Oil lamps, candles, flashlights with fresh batteries, easily prepared food that doesn’t require cooking, charged cell phones all of these items have transformed from someone’s to-do list into what we keep accessible and ready. Because the weather that sends tree limbs onto power lines, is now no longer an unusual occurrence, but part of the routine of living in New Hampshire.
Pretty much any time of year. Who would have thought? In most towns, the local library opens up and provides a warm respite from the storm and it often has wireless internet available, making it possible for us to connect with the rest of the world, one of the hardest things for our wired selves to do without.
Londonderry’s Leach Library did even more one time in the ice storm in 2011, the Library director Barbara Ostertag-Holtkamp and her staff made it possible for us to get this newspaper to the printer on time. Our office was without power Monday and Tuesday, and we were welcomed to use the downstairs meeting room of the Leach Library as a workplace to get our paper out.
Thanks for this great spirit of community.