The Snowstorm of ‘95

It started on Friday evening. It snowed all night, and when I got up the next morning, the snow in my street was up to my thighs. I stood in a west window talking on the phone to a friend. I was watching my neighbor next door pulling snow off his garage with a roof rake. He was elderly and his wife couldn’t see very well, so I thought I should keep an eye on him. I looked away for a minute and when I looked again, I couldn’t see him at all.

I was afraid he had fallen, so I bundled up and waded through the snow to his house. There he was, standing in his driveway. Someone had come and blown snow out of the driveway but the bank was already so high, it was impossible to see him from my house. I was glad he was okay.

I noticed the snow was close to three feet deep on the west side of my garage roof. The garage was old, and I was afraid it wouldn’t take the weight. I pulled the step ladder out and waded through the snow with my shovel and gradually pulled enough snow off that it looked okay to me.

It kept snowing all through that day. By Sunday morning, the wind had shifted and the east side of my garage roof had three or four feet of snow on it. The snow was up to my waist by then. I got the ladder out again, but this time the snow was so windblown and packed down that I couldn’t wade through it. I closed up the ladder and pushed it onto the top of the snow. I climbed on top of the ladder to use it as a big snowshoe. I started to shovel snow off the roof, but I took a step back without thinking. I went head first down into four feet of snow. My other foot was hung up on the ladder.

I had always heard the expression “cold terror” but I didn’t know what it meant until that moment. There was no one living in the house next door, no one living directly across the alley. There was no one who would even hear me screaming for help. I had to get myself out of that situation.

I got my foot disentangled from the ladder and somehow I inched my way toward the ladder which was now buried in the snow. I managed to haul myself up onto the closed up ladder, and then I dragged myself inch by inch until I reached the top of the bank. With one last push, I slid down into the driveway. I told myself that ladder could stay there because I wasn’t going back for it.

By Monday, it had stopped snowing. Everybody was out shoveling. One of my neighbors was jumping off his flat porch roof into the snow banks. I called down to him and asked if he could help me get snow off my house roof. There was a good five feet up there. He came over when he was done with his own and climbed to the roof and starting shoveling the snow off my roof. The snow in the front piled up so high, I couldn’t even see the house across the street.

I had heard announcements on the radio telling people to make sure they cleaned out around where the natural gas went into their homes. So I climbed that monstrous bank in the front and waded around to the west side of my house and shoveled the snow away from the intake. Then I turned around to leave and realized there was no way I could wade through all the snow that was in my front yard.

I called to my neighbor who was still on my roof. He came down the ladder. He was tall and had long legs. He was able to make a path for me to wade out of that deep snow.

A few days later the National Guard came in to help clear the streets. At midnight they were out in their huge trucks with plows, filling the trucks and hauling away the snow. It felt like we were being invaded, but we were all so grateful.

I had to have my yard cleared twice that winter with a front end loader. There was just so much snow that I couldn’t throw it any higher.

Cris Roll


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