Hurricane and Ice Storm - The Survivor

By Louise

In 1976, I was in Gaspé when hurricane Blanche hit the Magdalene Islands and the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. We had not received any weather warnings, and it was only after the sky changed colours that I phoned a neighbour to tell her that her TV antenna and garbage cans had been blown away by the wind.

I was located higher on the side of a mountain, so I was hit later. Trees were falling like matches and brick chimneys were crumbling. I saw bricks flying like leaves. My survival instincts took over and I tried finding a safe place in the house, because trees were falling and windows were shattering, as if they were about to explode. I had two young children aged one and three. I thought that by pushing a table against the fridge and huddling over my children, we would be safe. I thought of hiding in the basement, but was too afraid that we would not be found if, heaven forbid, trees fell on the house and a fire started. When the storm subsided, the house was surrounded by debris, and I immediately called for help. I have no idea how I managed to react like this in just a few seconds.

I later created my safety plan and emergency kit, because I now knew that this type of event did not just happen to others. This came in handy because I was hit by the 1998 Ice Storm in Montreal. I was there for work and was staying at a hotel for what was supposed to be two days. I arrived Tuesday, only to leave Saturday. One could say that I could see the signs of this threat on Wednesday based on what I had experienced 20 years earlier. I put together my emergency kit by late Wednesday afternoon. I got a flashlight, radio, battery, juice and bottled water, as well as food I could easily keep and eat, and of course cash. When the blackout hit Montreal, I became the point of contact at the hotel, as I was self-sufficient and had information via the radio. This enabled the hotel to keep its clients informed (because people were in a panic), and to take people in, as the hotel staff now understood the scope of the situation.

Today, I am ready. My kids and grandson know how to make their own kit because they know the unexpected can happen to them.

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