T’was Two Weeks Before Christmas
T’was two weeks before Christmas, when all through our town,
Not a light bulb was shining, TVs made no sound.
Generators were humming in garages with care,
With the hope that Public Service would soon bring warm air.
Each family stayed nestled as snug as they could,
While worries of freezing concerned all, as it should.
Papa in his long-johns, Mama in her hat,
Huddled together with the dog in their lap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter!
We sprang from our warmth to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
To peak from behind blankets I had hung on the sash.
The rain on the branches of ice covered trees,
Came crashing around us, as we fell to our knees.
When, what to my frightened eyes should appear,
But a mighty tall oak, I had always held dear.
With a crack, swish and thud, trees flew coldly aloof,
I knew that the next one might come through the roof.
More rapid than eagles the linemen they came.
And we cheered them and thanked them and called them by name:
From Connecticut! From Michigan! From Canada! and Ohio!
From D.C.! and New Hampshire! all bringing such brio!
To the top of the poles! To the treacherous line!
Take good care! And be safe! You are brave and so kind!
As the wind ceased its howling and no ice fell anew,
The worst ice storm in history with relief for so few.
No power or water or everyday fare,
We shared anxious moments but did not despair.
In spite of no lighting, life’s kindness shone through,
With neighbor helping neighbor, building friendships anew.
Long lines for hot coffee, “D” batteries and gas,
Brought warm smiles and comfort which helped the time pass.
As the circuits repaired and we warmed up our homes,
I am sure our storm stories could fill many tomes.
Let us never forget one strong common theme,
The compassion of strangers and the work of a team.
The linemen who helped us from home and afar,
Along with their skill brought hope, bright as a star.
As they spring to their trucks, to their teams give a whistle!
As away they all fly, like the down of a thistle,
They should hear us exclaim, ere they drive out of sight,
“Many thanks to you all, and to all a good night!”
Emergency Assistance Shines in Litchfield
By Lynne Ober
“Our Fire Department did an absolutely fantastic job,” grinned Litchfield Selectman George Lambert. “They were terrific and really pulled emergency assistance together during the aftermath of the ice storm. Fire Chief Schofield got us the resources we needed. The men worked tirelessly with short naps on the couch and the coordination between agencies was seamless.”
Schofield said that he was proud of all his staff. “This is the largest event that we’ve ever had in town and it is delightful that we had no injuries to town residents or fire fighters.”
Schofield also praised Litchfield Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Cutler. “She is definitely a shining star. She contributed, had good ideas, and is a very bright lady who worked tirelessly,” said Schofield. Cutler suggested using the school system to notify people. According to Schofield, the system was used. “It was like a reverse 911 system.”
Litchfield Fire Department set up an emergency command center Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. and kept that open until Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. “We aren’t usually a 24 hour operation so this was a real stretch for us, but everyone pitched in and helped,” noted Schofield, who also said that Litchfield had to do their own dispatching during this time because the dispatch contract with Hudson mandates that Litchfield do its own dispatching during an emergency.
“We had a little bit of everything and just tried to respond to any and all calls,” said Schofield.
In addition to volunteers and fire fighters, Schofield arranged for seventeen Army Reserve troops to help. He also arranged for loaner generators so that warming shelters could be opened at Talent Hall and Campbell High School while they waited for electricity.
“Last year I took some ‘hits’ when we got a larger refrigerator for the fire station,” said Schofield, “but we really used it. It was our responsibility to provide food to the Army Reserve personnel as well as providing food to our staff who did not take time to go home and eat. That refrigerator came in very handy.”
During the weekend, fire trucks logged slightly more than 3,000 miles as they responded to calls for assistance. “That’s the equivalent of driving to California from here,” stated Schofield, who noted that they had no equipment failures during the event. “That is a credit to our preventative maintenance program and to our guys who work at keeping our equipment in good shape.”
Flyers about emergency assistance and the warming shelters were not only delivered to homes, but were given to local pizza places. “We asked the pizza places to give the flyers to people who picked up pizzas or to pizzas that were delivered. It was just part of trying to keep everyone in the loop.”
During the height of the crisis, Schofield said that roads were driven and notes taken. “We trained people what an electrical line looks like; what a cable line looks like and what a telephone line looks like and we plotted where electrical lines were down and where trees were across roads.” Then this information was given to PSNH to help them in recovery efforts.
On Wednesday morning as the paper was going to press, Schofield knew that two PSNH crews would be working in Litchfield all day and planned to coordinate with them and to develop a plan. “Once we have the plan, we want to go door to door and let people who are still at home, know what PSNH in doing. Communication is key in an operation like this. People need to know what is going on and what to expect.”
Schofield also praised selectmen, who had supported the fire department. “We had a generator and also have fuel on-site now. It made all the difference to us as we did our best to support the town. Everyone just pulled together,” he concluded.
Caroling Girl Scouts
On Sunday, December 14, the Girl Scouts of troops B10426, J12405, and C12053 spread holiday cheer by caroling and handing out candy canes around the Hudson Rec Center neighborhood. Requests for favorite songs were taken. The band of merry singers ended their tour with a grand finale at the Central Fire Station. Afterwards, the girls returned to the Rec Center to be warmed with hot chocolate and cookies.