When it comes to the October 2011 snowstorm my thoughts are one big cliché. It still seems like one big blur. What I do remember is surreal as if it I were watching someone else go through it all.
I think it was early that Saturday afternoon when it began to sink in that this was no ordinary emergency.
I remember being disappointed after confirming with John Squier that the Halloween parade had been canceled.
Just a few hours later, that seemed almost trivial. By late afternoon, activity on the police scanner began to pick up. Downed trees and wires soon became the norm. Lives were in danger. I’m still amazed but thankful that no one died.
That night and through part of the day Sunday, I was faced with a dilemma. I really needed to get out and cover the storm but my wife and family were worried about my safety. With a massive tree close to the house, I worried about theirs as well.
Eventually I was able to get out. While I slept at home, the shelter at the Community Center soon became home base, with some side trips to the Emergency Operations Center at the police station and the debris-strewn streets of Canton.
From there it really is a blur. With generator power at the Community Center, WiFi at the EOC and a USB modem, I managed to stay online much of the time.
I continually updated stories on the site but facebook and twitter became the main source for updates.
A surprising number of people were online, many on their phones, waiting for updates and in many cases providing their own.
We shared stories and tidbits of information. I provided shelter hours, program information, street closings and openings and other town news. Since it's hard to be everywhere, readers provided extra eyes and ears in their part of town. In one case, I checked on the welfare of a friend's mother. It seemed as if many out of town logged in to try and get information on their native home or loved ones.
Most shelter occupants and day users seemed satisfied with the town’s efforts as it offered hot meals, cots, movies and other programs. People may have felt grungy but seemed to love conversing with old and new friends or playing a game of cards.
Still after a few days, many were stir crazy and were thankful when local businesses began to open up again — offering gas, a hot meal and a fresh cup of coffee.
It didn’t stop there. It took quite some time to get back to normal. There were clean-up stories and my own yard needed some attention.
It took some time but life returned to normal.
Fast forward to 2012. It's nearly the Saturday before October. My goal is simple. I just want to gather my family and go to a Halloween parade.