The ice this morning was pretty treacherous, and I’m not trying to make light of the situation, but any time there’s ice, I can’t help but compare it to the Ice Storm of 94 in Memphis. There aren’t many of us who can honestly say that we experienced both the Blizzard of 93 in East Tennessee and the Ice Storm of 94, but I’m one of those unlucky few. However, given the choice between 2-3 feet of snow or 5-7 inches of ice, I’ll take the snow every single time. Nothing before or since in my experience even comes close to rivaling that ice storm.
I was an undergraduate at the University of Memphis and lived in Midtown at the corner of Poplar and Clark Place. The apartment was a dump, and my landlords truly fit the description of slum lords. They never did any maintenance to the place, so it was a drafty, poorly insulated shithole that was hard to keep warm when the heat was working. The freezing rain and sleet started falling about noon, if memory serves, and by nightfall, we already had three solid inches of ice. But the rain didn’t stop at nightfall, and by midnight, I can vividly remember the five or six inches of ice on the sidewalk. It was surreal. The limbs started breaking and the transformers started exploding at about 1:00 in the morning. I moved my car out on the street because our parking lot was being bombarded with limbs. The next morning a huge cedar had uprooted and just missed my car by a foot.
That morning. the whole city looked like a war zone. The picture above is just a small sample of how many trees were down, not just limbs but entire trees. In total 850,000 people were estimated to have lost power, most for several days. My neighborhood was without power for 8 days, but luckily I had a gas stove so I could cook. Some places took over two weeks to get power back. Several people were killed by falling limbs, including one professor at the University. I didn’t know him, but I remember the other professors being upset at his death. It took months for all of the limbs and debris to be cleared.
I hope I never experience anything like that again. I’ve never been as cold as I was for first couple of nights without any heat, and now that I’m more mature, I can admit that I was terrified for the first few days. My roommate spent the whole time at his girlfriend’s place because she was one of the lucky few who hadn’t lost power, so I went through that experience alone. Now, any time there’s bad weather, I always compare it to either the Ice Storm of 94 or the Blizzard of 93, and as long as the power doesn’t go out, I’m a grateful man.