EDITORIAL: Christmas of 2022 not to be forgotten thanks to sense of community

Let’s get this out of the way early.

The recent blizzard that snarled Prince Edward County and most of southern Ontario over Christmas can, in no way, shape or form, contend with the famed Blizzard of 1977. To be sure, the most recent dumping of snow for nearly 36 hours straight looked promising for those of us unlucky enough to have been born after 1977 but somehow always within the recollection parameters of the hardened stock of county residents that did.

They always seem to have rabbit ears on when the issue of heavy snowfall arises and can recite facts and figures and dates with ease when it comes to the seemingly biggest winter blow that’s ever hit this burgh in recorded history. “If you think this is bad, you should have seen it back in February of ‘77! The snow banks were higher than the telephone poles!” is a familiar phrase to those of us who missed out-either by birthdate or locality- on that time old man winter didn’t spare the whip on Prince Edward County.

What will make the storm of 2022 just as memorable mostly has to do with timing. We still get winter in these parts but not like it once was.

Not to fall into the same chorus line as the old timers that boast of the storm of ‘77 but there once was a time when snowmobiles in Prince Edward County didn’t have much time to collect dust. Sledding seasons were measured in months, not days. The fact 80 per cent of the ‘evidence’ of the storm of 2022 was washed away in rain this weekend is the proof.

So when the big storms arrive these days, it’s more of a rarity and the County hadn’t experienced anything like last week’s winter weather event since 2019. But place it smack dab in the heart of a weekend Christmas and leave the community snow bound for a while, those factors create one of those ‘value added’ recollections that are added to the communal memory bank.

There were heroes back in ‘77. Where the snow was packed, snowmobilers delivered everything from food and wares to medicine. It took CFB Trenton’s massive snowblowers to clear passable goat trails on County roads and, with a break in the weather, the township’s snow plowers got to work, spending weeks clearing snow banks. Neighbours checked in on neighbours and the old party telephone lines were burned up.

There were heroes this time around as well. Over 30 County and contract plow units were pressed into service and their drivers slept in shifts in vehicles or at the County barns to ensure the trucks were continually running when it was finally safe for them to do so. Some municipal staff became stranded and spent Christmas Eve in snowbound vehicles. West Lake Terrace was in contact with Prince Edward County Fire and Rescue after it lost its emergency back-up power source. Arrangements were made to deliver a heating source and supplies that ensured residents were safe during the storm. Services were approved to support the care facility as relocating the residents during the severe winter conditions was not possible.

The staff who stayed and cared for residents at all of the County’s LTC homes deserve special credit.

So do the Hydro One workers who braved the conditions to restore power.

On Page 3 this week, we tell of a medication courier that was stranded four km from his destination but had shelter Christmas Eve and safely made his delivery Christmas morning thanks to a local contractor and his Argo.

Most if not all of those motorists not rescued from stranded vehicles by brave first responders and OPP officers working on Dec. 24 were taken in by neighbouring home owners, making for a one of a kind Christmas morning.

Those with the heavy trucks and snowmobiles able to gain access to the roadways made plenty of rescue missions, delivering fuel for generators and food for the weary.

In a way, those that weren’t around for the Blizzard of 1977 had our own snack sized version in 2022 and that care of duty and community spirit that sustained snowy Prince Edward County some 45 years ago was reflected this time around.

-Jason Parks