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October Snowstorm: Avon Patch Takes a Look Back as the Anniversary Approaches

It was an extraordinary time for the Farmington Valley and West Hartford — some of the hardest-hit areas and some of the last to get power again. Please share your memories as we share ours.

It was our own personal taste of "Revolution," the television show about what happens when the world loses power. We lived it — some of us for two weeks — after a devastating Oct. 29 snowstorm that felled century-old trees and changed the landscape of our towns.

The start was deceptively quiet: fat flakes of snow falling on trees that still had full canopies of leaves. We knew from weather reports that it could be a dangerous storm with lots of power outages, but we were all shocked by the rifle-shot cracks echoing through the night as giant limbs and trees pulled power lines down all around us and transformers exploded and sent sparks into the sky.

What we didn't know when we woke up Sunday morning, just a day before Halloween, was that most of us wouldn't have a Halloween. Most of us wouldn't see power again until a week or more later as CL&P crews struggled to reconnect the 800,000 customers who lost power in the state.

Over the next two weeks, Patch editors saw the elderly and the disabled being ushered into shelters and high schools. We saw state and town officials grow increasingly angry with the answers from CL&P officials as to why the restoration process was taking so long. We saw people throwing out giant garbage bags full of spoiled food and waiting in two-hour lines at Starbucks for a chance to recharge their phones.

But we also saw remarkable kindness. We saw neighbors setting up tables in the middle of closed streets to have pot lucks so that food wouldn't go to waste. We saw power lines stretched across yards so that a neighbor with a generator could run refrigerators for as many houses as possible. We saw students volunteering at shelters and strangers sharing whatever warmth and comfort they could provide.

Patch was fairly new to our towns back in the fall of 2011, but many people discovered us during that time as our local editors camped out in emergency operations centers and became conduits for important town news and information.

Over the next week, we'll share our stories and photos and personal memories, but we want to hear yours as well. You can email photos to Avon Patch Local Editor Jessie Sawyer at Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com or upload them here or to our Pics & Clips gallery for our anniversary day story. You can add comments to this story or to our posts on Avon Patch's Facebook about your own personal experiences and how your thinking about power might be different today than it was a year ago.

Patch is your community platform and your stories matter. So tell us how you survived "Snowtober" as we take a look back at an exceptional time in our lives.

Terri Wilson October 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Our "Hood" is the best in Avon. It took no time before chain saws were running, coffee was being made (off a generator) and food was assembled and 10 families shared breakfast and dinners for 8 days and nights thanks to 2 gas stoves and 2 freezers (run by the same generator) that kept everyone from losing food. We all came together and spent cold mornings and nights (by candlelight) with hot food - we had an incredibly huge Thanksgiving dinner one night, pizza on 2 grills another night, all BBQ and other night, soups, stews, and breakfasts were eggs, pumpkin pancakes, all sorts of breakfast breads from freezers or baked in the gas stove ovens, etc. We decided that among those in our "hood" we could survive for probably 2 weeks without ever having to go to the grocery store! Thanks to everyone who made it possible - it was a true family gathering of sorts that allowed us to weather the storm! By the way, my coffee maker made 450 cups of coffee that week - thanks to everyone bringing over their coffee! We are having a reunion dinner this Sunday night, by candlelight, and with food we have "on hand." Should be fun - we made it through Alfred!
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) October 22, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Thanks for the comment, Terri! Yes, in a time of great frustration over having no power, there still was a lot of good and community spirit taking place. Would you consider uploading photos of your "reunion dinner" by candlelight to avon.patch.com/pics? Is anyone else doing something like this approaching the anniversary of the October snowstorm? Upload you pics or write about it on Local Voices (avon.patch.com/blog/apply) Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch

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