Friday, December 18, 2009

Snowpocalypse - Remembering December 17, 2008 and Other Winter Tales

You may remember the news a year ago, when the storm of the century hit Washington State and 24 inches of snow fell on Spokane in 24 hours. The following week, our city received as much snow in seven days as it normally does in a single season (six feet). Our city was shut down: no school, no city bus routes, no flights; in fact, our state was shut down for at least a day or two. It was a somber time, as we realized that weather could completely isolate a thriving community of half a million people. Our holiday plans were delayed and our children, like many in this area, didn't receive their gifts until after Christmas was over, due to shipping delays, or the inability of delivery trucks to maneuver the city.

The winter continued with a ferocity as snow continued to pile up through the next month. We received a record amount of snowfall and our city's budget was strained as the previous winter, we had received what was at that point, a record amount of snowfall in one week as well. Roofs started to collapse. There were 95 reported of failures in Spokane County and neighboring Kootenai County, Idaho, with 68 being primary structures. One elderly woman was killed when the roof of her home collapsed, but fortunately no one was killed or seriously injured when a major supermarket's roof collapsed during busy evening shopping hours. Snowblowers, snow shovels, roof rakes, and ice melt couldn't be bought for love nor money. Whenever a shipment of shovels or roof rakes came into a hardware store, lines formed for several blocks until they were sold out. One hardware store sold over 2,000 roof rakes alone that season.

But although it was a difficult and serious time, Spokane city and area rural residents did what we've been doing for ages, through Ice Storm 1996, Snow Storm 2008, and Snowpocalypse 2008-9: we pitched in and got to work. Neighbors helped neighbors by checking on each other, shoveling, notifying each other whenever they ran errands to see if they needed something picked up, shoveling, helping disabled neighbors get dug out, shoveling, sharing sand and ice melt, shoveling, raking off each other's roofs, shoveling, and did I mention shoveling?

I wrote several posts highlighting our family's experiences last winter, and have shared the links below. I'm also sharing a link to my geneablogging friend and fellow Washingtonian, the footnoteMaven, as she shared her own winter story from across the state:

(the snowstorm of January 2008; who knew the year would be bookended by record storms?)

Snowpocalypse 2008

(official police report received via e-mail; a story of the exception to Spokane's neighborliness)

(an unforgettable Christmas)

(a story of winter survival by the footnoteMaven)

(footage from one of our local television stations - KREM 2)

This winter is looking a lot milder, thank goodness. No matter what the future holds, we and our children will always remember the winters of 2007-8 and 2008-9, and I'm sure they'll live on in family history lore!

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1 comment:

Tracy said...

Oh I distinctly remember the ice storm in 1996. I was in Moscow and one of my professors lived in Coeur d'Alene. She commuted down three times a week to teach. This was the first and only time we had a class cancelled and she came in jeans and snow boots for another week and a half. I recall her saying she had no power for about 10 days.

And even though Spokane and CdA have had much worse storms than where I live in SW Idaho, our winter the last couple of years hasn't been a picnic either. My husband got VERY tired of shoveling snow.