First appeared in Substack
By Aron Solomon
If you live anywhere in the U.S., yesterday’s Montreal ice storm almost certainly appeared in your news feed. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the storm, here’s a picture from this morning that I took while out on an admittedly ill-advised walk to get an espresso:
But what I like to call Montreal Ice 2023 was a formidable storm with much of this city still without power and massive chunks of ice and trees still falling in the city, it can’t hold a candle (unintended but pretty decent power failure pun) to what this city saw in 2008.
The Great Ice Storm of 2008 was a natural disaster that hit the city of Montreal, Quebec, and its surrounding areas, causing widespread damage and disruption. The storm was one of the worst natural disasters in the region’s history, leaving a lasting impact on the community and the landscape.
The ice storm began on January 5, 2008, and lasted for several days. It was caused by a combination of a low-pressure system and cold air, which resulted in freezing rain falling on the region. The rain froze on contact with the ground, trees, and power lines, creating a thick layer of ice. The weight of the ice caused trees and power lines to snap, leading to power outages, blocked roads, and other problems.
The city of Montreal and the surrounding areas were hit hard by the storm. Many trees were severely damaged or destroyed, causing a significant impact on the city’s parks and green spaces. The ice also caused widespread power outages, leaving thousands of people without electricity for days. The outages affected many essential services, including hospitals, schools, and public transportation.
The storm also caused significant damage to homes and businesses. The weight of the ice caused roofs to collapse, and the freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst, resulting in extensive water damage. Many people were forced to evacuate their homes due to the damage.
The city of Montreal responded quickly to the crisis, mobilizing emergency services and setting up shelters for people who had to evacuate their homes. The Canadian Armed Forces were also called in to assist with recovery efforts, providing food, water, and other essential supplies to those affected by the storm.
Despite the extensive damage caused by the ice storm, the community came together to support each other. Volunteers worked tirelessly to clear the streets and sidewalks of debris, and neighbors checked on each other to make sure everyone was safe. The storm highlighted the resilience and strength of the Montreal community in the face of adversity.
In the aftermath of the storm, Montreal and the surrounding areas made significant investments in their infrastructure to prepare for future emergencies. The city’s power grid was reinforced, and trees were trimmed to prevent them from falling during storms. The city also established an emergency management plan to ensure a coordinated response to future crises.
The past 24 hours led me to consider what you should do if you find yourself in a storm like this, whether it’s ice or a hurricane or the like. So I asked Pittsburgh lawyer, Jason Matzus – no stranger to unpredictable weather – for advice on what to do if you quickly find yourself in the midst of a natural disaster.
“First and foremost, get yourself to safety. If you’re in a safe situation when the storm hits, don’t leave unless there are truly unavoidable circumstances.”
Matzus adds that in the middle of a natural disaster you need to be as proactive as possible:
“If it’s something like an ice storm that might be forecasted, make sure you have everything you need to survive for a few days.”
Finally, when the storm hits, lay low for longer than you think you need to:
“Even when things appear far safer than they were in the eye of the storm, stay out of the way of the police, fire department, utility workers, and anyone else who is getting working around the clock to return things to normal.”
The real lesson here, from Montreal 2008 and Montreal last night, is that we should never underestimate the power of nature. If we find ourselves in the path of something potentially destructive, we need to take cover and not come out until it’s not only safe for us but safe for others.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.