This week marks the anniversary of the Maryland Ice Storm of 2014 when Northern and Western Maryland counties experienced nearly a week of power outages. At peak, nearly 150K homes were powerless. That number may seem nominal compared to a densely populated city but up here where the cows grow, entire towns were out of power. Freezing temps left those without a fireplace scrambling for generators yet there weren’t any to be had, and major arteries were unnavigable, leaving food and supplies stranded en route.

After three days, household provisions were dwindling. We were out of all things dairy, diapers, meat, eggs, bread, etc. It was time to go to the store. But power outages disallowed charging of cell phones and we hadn’t been privy to the fact that restaurants and grocers nearby were locked down.
I’ve managed winter driving in Cleveland, Northern Michigan and St. Paul, and figured a few inches of Mid-Atlantic ice would be relatively minor in comparison. So, I hopped up into my 4×4 and slowly headed five miles into town. It was an adventure of sorts, because the slick white peace had left nearby roads virtually untouched. There were mammoth icicles clinging to the likes of rain gutters, telephone lines, trees and outcroppings. Not a soul (except for myself) on the road. It was beautiful.
I arrived in town to utter desolation. Businesses covered in ice, and glazed cars temporarily abandoned in parking lots and along the road. No power, no gas, no grocer, no heat, and no Dunkin Doughnuts coffee–No coffee being the worst kind of terrible.
After heading north to the next closest town, I found some semblance of life and order. Main Street had power. Their roads not nearly as sinuous, and in-town electricity issues had been somewhat remedied by BGE. I parked my truck in the unplowed Weiss Market lot and trekked in.
The entry display, customarily a parade of breads and pies, was bare. As were nearby fruit and veggie isles. All cleared out less some sad looking strawberries sporting fuzzy mold. I then wandered down to the butcher’s coolers which featured nothing but two soon-to-expire organic chickens at $15 each. All the prepared foods were long gone, the store having no lesser birds for rotisserie or ground beef for stuffed peppers. All that was left were a few slices of over-heated pizza and some fried potato wedges. More like a gas station menu than grocery store (except in Wisconsin where you can buy farm fresh cheese curds at country gas stations and they are delicious!).
I began to feel about as desperate as I ever had. A big uh-oh. There were five hungry people awaiting my return yet there was no milk, real cheese, bread, butter, or meat to purchase. Even the healthy frozen stuff was gone. Only potato chips and cereal remained plentiful. I would be heading home with very little of the true sustenance we were accustomed to, instead settling on eight pints of high-brow ice cream (at $7 each), frou-frou crackers ($6), gourmet nuts ($15), and some spray cheese (don’t tell Gwyneth Paltrow). Relatively inexpensive items had all been snapped up (less the lone can of spray cheese) before the ice arrived.
The manager came over to apologize, stating that his trucks couldn’t get in because of the roads. I wondered if the trucks would arrive before the snack foods and cereal were gone too. Because that solitary grocery store was serving double the amount of customers than it normally does, yet was unable to replenish itself in order to sustain two towns.
The ice storm was the last nail in my box of excuses for being ill-prepared. Two years prior, I’d dismissed Sandy as a freak hurricane that left us powerless for a week from wind damage, but at least it was warm out. The ice storm offered zero power with temps in the teens to boot. I was tired of worrying about potentially problematic weather or otherwise.
Older folks who lived through the depression aren’t considered eccentric for storing emergency food. Some are borderline hoarders but they went without during their formative years. Completely understandable. My own grandmother had a basement full of jars of only God knows what saved up "just in case" that my poor mom had to go through after she died. Exterior dust a quarter-inch thick and it’s contents settled into a cohesive palette of earth toned grays and browns.
It’s highly unlikely we’d need more than a fews weeks worth of groceries, but this past September, I finally got a generator and my own "just in case" provisions. The electrician hooked my house up to the said generator and shortly after I was able to find a 22 cubic foot freezer on clearance from Home Depot and fill it with half a cow from nearby Roseda Farms, along with enough frozen berries and veggies to keep us scurvy-free for a month. That near empty Weiss Market had scared me enough to consider preparing for things out of my control.
Am I an alarmist? Nope. Just someone who prefers cozy and nourished to gelid and hollow. And considering how many icy days we’ve already had this season, I’m feeling good about the cow named "Fred" who lives in my freezer.
0 0 votes
Article Rating