The January 1998 Ice Storm Montreal, Quebec, Canada


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Poems on the Ice Storm

2 poems by Gordon Rainey | Mr. Gordon Rainey's son Patrick is a lineman

with Ontario Hydro, out of Vankleek Hill |

Ice Storm '98

© 1998 by Gordon Rainey

Hats off to the crews of the high wire

They got the grid juice flowing again

For a month double shifting without tire

Battling the century's worst freezing rain


Icy drizzle made trees and lines sag

Layering gradually to unbearable loads

Snapping limbs like reports from a rifle

Pulling power poles down across roads


Pylons buckled and transformers flared

Night sky flashes of eerie, sinister blue

Heralded a massive power black-out

Frigid hell for people and animals too


Local hydro crews alone could not cope

Disaster army units were mobilized as well

Princess Patricia's Lights from Edmonton

The Royal 22nd from Quebec's Citadel


The stampede for too few gas generators

Pets abandoned so masters could stay alive

Real heroes cared for old in the shelters

Unmilked cows simply could not survive


French-English squabbles were put on hold,

Haughty Americans turned friends in an hour

In the fight to rid us of the dark and the cold

By the restoration of our electrical power


Yankee linemen from Western Massachusetts

Old Glory unfurled by Pennsylvania's true

Northeast Utilities teams from Connecticut

All pitching in to see the tough job through


Not forgotten, our past relief rendered

Flood casualties were returning the same

Soothing the cruel winter chill and shiver

Lac St. Jean and Red River help came


Damned be those who sought their advantage

Victims remember them well with their tears

Praise those for giving of gut and of heart

Generous deeds to extol through the years


What lesson learned from mother nature?

She will strike you in many damaging ways

Though battered, undaunted we're pledging

A helping hand through your difficult days


(Mr. Gordon Rainey's son Patrick is a lineman

with Ontario Hydro, out of Vankleek Hill)

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In The Dark Triangle

© 1998 by Gordon Rainey


They say it was predicted in the Farmer's Almanac

Who has a copy?

Another one ís coming in February

Better believe it now

In the dark triangle


Every tree smashed

Every pole toppled

Every wire to every house down

Devastation enough to awe seasoned veterans

Conditions never dreamed of

In your face, real

In the dark triangle


Who do you blame, God, Satan, El Nino, mother nature?

Seldom heard of, soon forgotten infrastructure sites

Suddenly become focal

They say Saint-Césaire is the culprit

It ís a dead-end, cut off, 230 KV power station

In the middle of the Montérégie area

In the dark triangle


Unexpected, but welcome visitors drop in

The much maligned military, besmirched in Somalia

Saving lives

Prying open the jaws of disaster

In the dark triangle


Who ís going to fix what ís broken?

Hydro lineman, the ones left after downsizing

If there aren't enough locals, don't bother with other provinces

Call in the Americans, they buy our power

We can cut a deal

In the dark triangle


How long will it take?

About a month to six weeks for the hardest hit areas

The black-out clock started ticking January 5th, 1998

So that makes it cold until mid-February

In the dark triangle


Power design lessons learned include

Underground distribution

Double ice load allowances

Anti-cascading pylons

More redundancy links in grid

Shear-pins to secure lines to pylons

Sag resistant sky grounds

In the dark triangle


Survival lessons learned include

How to hook up a gas generator

How to milk a cow by hand

How to run your furnace off of your car battery

How to tell if hypothermia is setting in

How to get along in a busy refugee shelter

In the dark triangle


Sigourney Weaver stared in the 1973 film

"The Ice Storm"

For some it ís all déjà vu

I'm going to rent it and do a sanity check

On the Hollywood version

Maybe, just maybe, we could have dodged

This whole monumental mess

In the dark triangle