Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Blizzard of '96. I think of it every year at this time.

I love snow, as you well know, and I was in my glory during the Blizzard of '96. The city was shut down and our area was dead quiet and nothing was moving. We live not too far from the airport, highway and ferries. Even though you aren't really aware of noise, once it is completely silent, you realize how much noise there is. I came downstairs knowing that something was different. When it snows we can hear the snowplow at the airport. I hadn't heard it so I didn't look out the window. When I got to the deck door, what I was looking at was so surreal I couldn't take it in. When I went to bed there was a bit of snow, as it had been snowing a bit for a few days, and now I was standing face to face with snow about five feet deep against our glass balcony door. I honestly could not wrap my brain around it.


Those are cars in this snow

I ran and got Allan and we assessed what was going on. Quickly we realized that there was snow up the sides of the greenhouse almost to the roof and once it got wet and heavy it would cave in. We literally pushed a path through the snow to the shovels and started shovelling toward the greenhouse. We shovelled a trench around it. A very light rain started to fall as the temperature crept above zero, and the snow was getting so heavy we could barely shovel it. When we got to the back/south side I noticed there was about a three foot drift on the greenhouse roof. Allan was ahead of me and I took my shovel handle and gently tapped the drift. Tap...tap, tap, tap, swoosh, the whole wet heavy drift came down on Allan's head. We just kept shovelling. On our return down the path after we finished the greenhouse, we could see an even worse catastrophe in the making. There was a drift on the same south side of our house roof over six feet deep. Allan went straight up and spent hours clearing it. It was still raining lightly and the snow acted as a sponge and was extremely heavy. The men on our block started shovelling the roofs of the seniors on our street and not one roof collapsed. Next came shovelling a trench along the curbs on both sides of the street, as the quickly melting snow was threatening to flood the area's houses as the drains were completely blocked. The men on the block shovelled all day. Most greenhouses in greater Victoria collapsed. Our Rec Centre rink roof collapsed. Thrifty Foods Broadmead store had a partial collapse I believe. It was quite a disaster. We found out that Victoria had two snowmobiles and CFAX radio was organizing people who needed to get to hospitals, or to appointments for Dialysis etc. Nurses and Doctors were matched with people in their area who needed help. There was a woman in West Shore whose home was command central. Apparently she had huge sheets of paper, laying out people's needs and volunteers and matching them up by area and accessibility. It was an amazing experience. The best in people shone over that few days.


This video was put together by CHEK6 after the blizzard hit our area. The video's snow scenes are in somewhat chronological order and quite beautiful.


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