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The Storm - Part I of II
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  1. #1

    The Storm - Part I of II

    This ended up being a little over the 25K character limit so it's in two parts. Depending on how it is received, I'm considering increasing it to a full length novel. So, all feedback will be greatly appreciated...good or bad.TIA



    The Snow Storm


    Chapter 1.

    Late for work again Thomas tried to zig zag through the Monday traffic…nice way to get hit he thought. The news on the radio was going on about the economy, Iran, Israel then broke for weather updates.

    “The next few days will be colder than usual with increasing cloudiness and the chance of snow on Thursday”. Great he thought, more snow and the snow blower is down with a broken drive belt. I can’t pick up the belt until I get the serial/make/model number…just great. He knew this weeks ago but just kept putting it off. Probably should have just brought it to a repair facility. But he hated to pay someone for something that he could do.

    On the way home the weather was now reporting that a large low pressure system was in the mid west and moving Eastward. So the “chance” of snow was now a good 6 to 8 inches…great he thought, I have to get that drive belt taken care of.

    That evening he took care of getting the necessary information on the snow blower belt and ordered it on the internet. Deliverable in TEN days they said…great, ten days…and a storm is coming. Just great. Why didn’t I do this sooner?

    Next morning the same weather station was now saying that the low pressure system had increased in size and was even a lower barometric pressure than expected. “Snow accumulations of 8 to 12 inches” expected. Great he thought and no snow blower. Just great.

    The snow was now expected to arrive on Wednesday not Thursday and could start accumulating by Wednesday evening. Oh great he thought…I’ll have to hire a plow guy for this one. When he got home that evening his wife had the news on, now they were squawking about 12 to 15 inches. Do we have enough food on hand he asked? No she said, I was waiting for the sale to start on Friday. Well, we had better get some now since this could be a really bad storm, he stated. OK, I’ll go tomorrow morning Dana said. Do you really think it’ll be that bad she wondered out loud.

    On Wednesday morning with his coffee, he turned on the news first thing. Now the storm had turned into a NorEaster with accumulations of 18 to 24 inches. Oh great he thought, 24 inches, no snow blower and no plow guy lined up. Just great. He left for work with instructions to his wife to stock up on food, canned goods & steaks. But what if the power goes off she asked? He had yet to buy the generator that he had intended on getting. Great, just great, he thought. Yet another loose end that I dropped the ball on he thought.

    Chapter 2.

    The drive into work Wednesday morning was an easy one. Most commuters must have taken the day off. The sky was a leaden gray with the obvious tone of a storm in the offing. By 2:00 it started snowing.

    By quitting time there was already four inches on the ground…in two hours. Thomas had considered stopping at Lowes or Home Depot to buy a generator but decided against it because of the snow. He just wanted to get home. Maybe the worst will miss us he thought.

    The evening news was all about the storm, who was doing what to prepare, what the town plows were doing to get ready and the Mayor telling people not to panic. The Channel 3 News girl was blathering about having sand and chains in your trunk.

    The forecast was now for 24 to 36 inches total.

    By late Wednesday night there was already 14 inches on the ground. Thomas turned on the deck lighting to really see how hard it was snowing. Visibility was next to nothing, he could just barely make out the shape of the garden shed in the back yard 50 feet away.

    Thursday morning dawned with the sky full of snow and over 30 inches on the ground. How did we get from 24 inches to 30 so fast he wondered? The power was still on so Thomas went right to the news station and learned that the NorEaster had been stalled between a super low and a pressure ridge that just kept it over the North East yet still fed by the relatively warmer waters of the ocean. New estimates were now indicating 36 to 42 inches of snow.

    Thomas was not going into work today.

    Chapter 3.

    The Emergency Operation Centers were in full swing and taking in seniors and people that had already lost power. The National Guard had been dispatched to assist in clearing main roads. With snow so deep, even the state trucks were having trouble keeping up with it. The side roads had to be ignored for now.

    By mid day Thursday the weather stations were buzzing with the “storm of the millennium”. Lead in’s and reporters standing out in the cold (next to the studio) and describing the situation. The snow was still coming down hard. New totals were now in the unimaginable 60 to 70 inch range.

    Thomas had to sit back on that one…that’s almost six feet of snow he thought. SIX FEET! Here in the Northeast he wondered? Already he couldn’t see out the living room window except for the upper 14 to 16 inches. Thank God the power is still on he thought.

    Then there was a loud snap and it went out.

    Plunged into the dark gloom, he castigated himself for not getting the flashlights and lantern ready sooner. Even though it was still daylight the snow did a good job of blocking it. His wife was calling him to help her find the way from the back room to where he was. Great he thought, just great.

    He worried about the Nettles, the next door neighbors who are very friendly and good people. Both in their late sixties but still youthful. Are they OK he wondered? Do they have food and water? There was no way for him to get over there so he pushed into the back of his mind.

    By Friday morning the AM/FM battery radio was declaring a state of emergency for the County & State and that roofs had collapsed, people had been trapped in cars overnight, and there was more snow to come.

    The pressure inversion that had stalled the storm had grown worse and there was now close to seven FEET on the ground.

    Seven feet of snow he thought, how can that be he wondered? By now, there was very little light coming through the windows, mostly diffused by the snow. The blurb on the battery radio came back to him…collapsing roofs? Do I need to worry about that he wondered. I have a snow rake…some where in the garage I think.

    He found it after a half-hour of searching. He put it together and then tried to go outside. He opened the back garage door and saw a wall of snow in front of him. Great he thought…can’t even get out.

    In his younger days Thomas used to love the outdoors; climbing, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing was a big part of his life. Somewhere he still had the snowshoes. He needed them now. Another half-hour of searching turned them up deep in the attic. By this time he was frozen, had to go back inside with his wife and reload the wood stove.

    There was a small amount of firewood in the garage along with some kindling. It was fortunate that the temps stayed in the high 20’s and not way below freezing. So he gathered up the wood and started the wood stove. Trouble was the deep snow had covered the chimney. Great, just great he thought to himself as smoke filled the room.

    No choice he thought, I have to clear the chimney…but I have to get out first. He opened the back door and managed to climb out on top of the snow, it was dangerous. If he fell or got wallowed down in the snow…he’d be dead in short order. Just great he thought.

    He cleared the top of the snow and realized that it was STILL snowing. Must be closer to 8 feet he thought. Thomas worked his way through the 45 feet from the back garage door to the wood stove chimney on top of the snow. He was wishing that he had taken the ski poles for balance. He gingerly raked the snow and hoped he wouldn’t fall off the snowshoes. At this point he was “walking” on top of 8 feet of snow. Soft, light, airy snow…what about the roof he thought? Could it collapse like some others?

    I can’t “rake” it because there’s no where to put it…the snow level was almost equal to the roof he thought to himself. So what do I do? He decided to pull down as much as he could and give up on the rest. What else can I do he asked himself?


    Chapter 4.

    At this point things became serious. While reaching out to raise the rake, he sunk into the soft snow and fell over upside down. On his back with snow falling on his face, he realized that he was STUCK fast. Attempting to move at all just forced him deeper into the snow. Panic began to work it’s way up from his belly. He was stuck with no help nearby, Dana did not even know he was in trouble and even if she did what could she do?

    He tried to get his feet back under him but the snowshoes were tangled in the snow above him. What a fix this is he thought. He struggled a bit more and realized that he had only worked himself deeper into the snow.

    Panic was starting to take over…THINK he yelled at himself…think for a minute! Where was he…close to the kitchen he thought. The kitchen window! If he could get to that…but first he needed his feet under him.

    It took a good 10 minutes to shrug off the snowshoes, the bindings were ice caked and his fingers were frozen…but he got them OFF. Now he had to struggle to get his feet underneath him. Thomas reached forward trying to feel the side of the house. Nothing but snow. Fear, primal fear was starting to work it’s way up from his gut. He realized that he was stuck in deep snow with some of it starting to fall in on him. He was alone and Dana had no idea where he was. Even if she did, she couldn’t help. Pushing in further, was he going the right way he thought? Could he have gotten turned around and headed in the wrong direction? Wild things were going through his mind. He was SCARED.

    Then, he touched the vinyl siding, it was there! Next he had to grope along the wall left then right looking for the kitchen door or window. Go left he guessed. With frozen hands (he lost the gloves getting the bindings off) he felt for either. Then he felt a rim of something…the Window! He scraped the glass enough to be able to see inside of the kitchen where it was warm…the window was locked naturally. He started to bang on it to get Dana’s attention being careful not to break it. Where was she he screamed silently?

    Then she was there in front of him with her mouth open and hands to her face. His good luck was the window was a three-piece unit. The center was wide and fixed in place. The two sides were narrower but were sliders that could be opened without a lot of snow coming in. Dana unlocked the closest one to him and slid it to the right. A blast of warm air hit Thomas in the face. As he dragged himself through the 16-inch wide opening he made a silent prayer for his salvation from the snowy tomb. He crawled over the granite counter top and slithered down to the tiled kitchen floor with a big sigh. Safe! Exhausted, frozen and wet but safe and the job was done.


    Snow continued to fall, by morning the news said that it was close to ten feet…well over the roof and must be close to blocking the wood stove chimney again.

    Then he heard a steady beeping sound…what was that? A quick check of the house revealed that the CO2 monitor went off! Great, the wood stove chimney has blocked up again. Just great he thought. Back out there once more. But he needed to get the snowshoes first.

    Thomas went back through the kitchen window knowing that the snowshoes couldn’t be more that a few feet away. By now, with all of his prior thrashing most of it had been packed down to some degree. He basically stabbed at the snow with his arm hoping to touch one of them. When he did, he managed to find them both close together. He dragged them into the kitchen with lots of snow falling on the tiled floor…Dana won’t be happy he thought to himself.



    Since the wood stove was now the only source of heat his wife Dana had started to warm up a dinner for them. He thought, thank God I bought more firewood last month. Wish I had gotten that generator though. Then he realized that he wouldn’t have enough gas for it. Time for some serious reflection he mused. There seems to be a lot of things that I should have done. He then remembered that the firewood was 20 feet from the door. How will I get it? How do I wade through so much snow…more recriminations.

    By morning the snow was over 11 feet. The weather guy tried to explain why the low had stalled and why the snow continued to fall. Then he too abruptly went off the air. Great he thought…even the AM/FM was down. Then he tried the Short Wave radio, lots of static but enough to learn that the entire East Coast was under a thick blanket of snow and things were getting worse. 12 feet in NYC, 13 feet in PA and 14 feet in CT and MA.

    Fourteen feet of snow he wondered…fourteen feet! How is that possible? Although it was, he only needed to look outside to verify it…if he was able to look outside. This had to be a one in a thousand year storm he pondered.

    Chapter 5.

    Early Saturday morning there was a loud groaning sound…then the roof collapsed. A loud splintering of wood, a tangle of rafters, wires & beams crashed through the living room ceiling. Piles of powder snow quickly followed. It filled the living room, swept over the couch and coffee table then blocked access to the kitchen.

    Quick he shouted to Dana, go into the conference room. He knew that it was recent construction and would hold up more snow weight. This can’t get any worse, can it he thought? What happens when it melts he wondered?

    Dana had been a Real Estate Agent for several years. Adding on a “conference room” addition made great sense. She could work from home rather than trekking into the main office which was eleven miles away to meet with Clients. Along with the room, they also installed a small glass front wood stove more for the ambiance than heat. Now, that was the only thing between them and freezing to death.

    Thomas began to frantically move important items like the radio, some food, flashlights and anything else they needed into the conference room.

    The S/W radio still worked even though the batteries were getting weak. He had spares but was not sure where they were. Reports were coming in that many states were helpless in the storm and needed the Government to save them…except Washington DC was in even worse trouble. The subways were overwhelmed, no buses were moving no taxies could move…nothing moved. All was buried under tons of snow.


    Thomas decided to clear a hole in the peak of the damaged roof so that he could see what the new world looked like. All he had to do was get to the peak where hopefully it was above the snow. He got up into the damaged attic and began to clear away the debris from the collapse. Once done, he poked his head through the roof and realized that everywhere was covered in deep snow. Nothing in any direction…just deep snow. Only a few one story roofs were visible in a sea of snow…most with second floors were barely visible, more like bumps in the snow. It was surrealistic, like something from the Twilight Zone. How could this be he wondered?

    OK, he thought, we are on our own. No help from anywhere…not even next door. He was thinking about the Nettles, really nice older folks that lived next door. While in their late sixties, they were still pretty active and always hung over the fence to discuss local news, the weather or politics.

    Nobody can move through 14 feet of snow. Even the snowmobiles must have just bogged down in the light powder…nobody can help.


    At least it had stopped snowing…

    Chapter 6.

    OK, he thought to himself, what do we do now? There was food for a week or so, the water & sewer still worked but for how long? What about the food? What happens when it runs out? How do I get the firewood into the garage? How do I get to work? Wait he thought…work is no longer an issue. There will be no work for some time, right? What about the Nettles? How do I get to them to see if they are OK? What if they are not…what do I do then? How would I get them from next door to here? Do I even want them here? How would I take care of them? Feed them?

    He quickly became overwhelmed by all of this. What do I do? How can this happen to the most advanced country in the world? How?


    Chapter 7.

    Now that they were getting low on firewood he had to make a plan to cross the 20 feet to the woodpile. Dana made a comment about “penny for your thoughts” and he explained what he was thinking. What about the snowblower she asked. He rather snapped back that the drive belt was broken. Um, what does that do she asked? It moves the machine forward he grumbled. Um, can it still throw snow she asked sheepishly? Well, yeah but…hand slaps forehead time!

    You’re RIGHT he exclaimed…it can’t move on it’s own but I could push it through the snow. At least for a short distance…YOU are a genius he yelled while heading to the garage. Dana sat there with a satisfied look on her face…she helped him.

    This was not the first time either. There were countless times in the past when he was trying to solve a problem and she would ask a “dumb” question. Which he would annoyingly discount but would then cause him to think about it differently while he explained why it wouldn’t work and then came up with a solution. All because of her prodding.

    It always reminded him of Bogie & Hepburn in the movie African Queen. She had asked “dumb” questions too but it led Bogie to rethink his plans and come up with an answer he didn’t expect.

    OK, so how do I do this he wondered. He opened the back door and the wall of snow was still there. Of course, where would it go he said to himself? There must be another 3 or 4 feet above the top of the door. A tunnel wouldn’t work, it would soon collapse trapping him under the snow. Thomas was fairly certain that if he could open it up to the sky, the machine would throw it over the top. What to do with the first four feet of snow in front of the door?

    He quickly decided that it would have to be shoveled to the other side of the garage, no place else to put it I guess he thought. It took over an hour to carve out a 3 foot opening that went to the top of the snow fall. At least he could see blue sky again.

    Next he filled the gas tank on the blower and started it up. He forgot about the noxious fumes that built up. Tough he thought…deal with it! This has to get done. He pushed the machine into the snow and it did have enough force to blow it up over the top…it was working he yelled to himself! He was also thanking God that he spent the extra money to get the bigger engine model.

    As he moved forward the top snow fell in on him. He expected this and stoically pulled the machine back and then pushed it forward again. It took an hour to go 8 feet. But this will work he decided. He’ll get to the wood and they won’t freeze.

    Two hours later he was wet and exhausted. Time for lunch he decided. Dana had heated some soup on the stove with the remaining firewood. He thanked God again that he was going to be able to replace it.

    He guessed that there could only be another 3 or 4 feet to the wood pile so he bundled back up and restarted to snowblower. It was strange to be working within this trench of snow that towered above him. It could easily fall in on him without warning. No choice he decided, if he stopped…they would freeze in short order.

    A short time later he hit something solid. He DID it, he made it to the woodpile. A little more clearing done and he went to get Dana. His thinking was he’d take the risk of the trench collapsing and carry the wood to the door and then hand it off to her to be placed near the entryway. Dana came out dressed and ready to work. I caught a good woman he thought to himself.

    Two hours later and in dying light, they had moved enough for 3 or 4 days. He’d have to do more tomorrow but now he was exhausted, wet and grumpy. So was Dana. He picked up an armload and fed the wood stove. What’s for supper he asked? A pillow off the conference room easy chair zinged past his head.

    During the night the wind had picked up a bit. When he looked at the trench in the morning, it was almost halfway filled in. Half way he thought…arrrugh he shouted…I have to do it all over again! He ranted and raved for a bit then said to himself…suck it up Tommy boy…nobody’s going to do it for you! There is no one.

    Two hours later he had enough for another 3 days tucked into the garage. They needed to move much more inside though.

    What about the Nettles he wondered, were they all right? No matter, there was nothing he could do about it. Nothing…can’t get there from here he jokingly thought to himself, then chided himself that these were real people suffering. Are they still even alive he wondered he’d seen no indication of life over the past few days. But then there were many neighborhood families that showed no sign of life.

    Chapter 6.

    While looking for something else, he stumbled across four packs of D cell batteries. Great he shouted, we can power the short wave radio again. Why didn’t I know where they were…I should have.

    On the state level it was chaos. The Governor was losing patience with the National Guard. Even they could do nothing to open the roads. They simply did not have the equipment to deal with so much snow. With 5 or 6 feet it could be moved off to the side. With this much, they were overwhelmed. What they needed were snowblowers the size of freight trains. All right the Governor stated, lets just the main roads opened for emergency vehicles. Even if its only one lane…just get it done he screamed at no one in particular.

    We can’t even do that the General said. When we bulldoze the snow it only comes over the top of the plow and buries the dozer. So just make the plow BIGGER the Governor screamed back. That made the General stop and think. In Maine they had plows that were 14 feet high. They moved very slowly but they did clear the roads. Call the maintenance garage he ordered his assistant. In no time they were welding up huge steel plates to the plow blades.

    Chapter 7.

    Thomas was once again reviewing their situation. They still had food for a week at least. They melted snow on the stove for water, he no longer trusted the town water. They had wood inside for close to a week. The toilet still worked, not for long he thought. There was a 40 pound bag of lime in the shed but it may as well have been on the moon. So they couldn’t just use a 5-gallon bucket. Unless they just covered the “stuff” in a layer of snow maybe. The living room was filled with debris and snow, the garage was half filled with the snow he shoveled from the back door…and then there were the Nettles.

    So many things to worry about he thought.



    The Guard General looked over the monstrosity. It was the state’s biggest snow truck with the welded up 12 foot high blade shaped like a large V. It would only clear one lane if it worked but that would be enough to start. He ordered one of the most experienced drivers to make a test run starting with the airfield adjacent to the Guard main building. The huge garage doors opened up and the driver began to move slowly forward.

    The snow, while somewhat compacted, was still powdery so he was able to push forward…it was working! Lots of disrupted snow fell beside the blade and spilled into the hanger sized garage but that was OK, it worked.

    The General made a call to the Governor then ordered the maintenance crew to weld up as many more blades as they could. We may get through this yet he thought to himself. The Governor was already on the emergency radios to other state and local maintenance facilities ordering them to cobble up the redesigned plows.

  2. #2
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