'The second coming of the ice age' in St. John's in 1984

The toppled trees and power lines demonstrated how intense the ice storm had been.

Storm downed trees and power lines, leaving many without power for days

After the ice storm in St. John's

40 years ago
Duration 2:11
In April 1984, St. John's was dealing with the fallout from an ice storm.

The toppled trees and power lines demonstrated how intense the ice storm had been.

And so did the fact that many people in St. John's still didn't have power two days after the ice had arrived, almost a month after the formal end of winter in 1984.

"Newfoundlanders say it looks like the second coming of the ice age," the CBC's Michael Vaughan reported on The National on April 15, 1984, at the close of a weekend that followed the storm's arrival on the Friday night.

'Everything is covered'

Ice-covered power lines
The ice storm had brought down both trees and power lines, which left utility crews scrambling to triage the problems and working to restore power to the city. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Everywhere you look, everything is covered in ice."

As of Sunday evening, Vaughan said anybody who did have power was getting access to it for just a few hours at a time.

"What little electricity there is, is being rationed," he said.

Utility crews dealing with a downed power line
The storm had brought down many trees and power lines, leaving utility crews with lots of problems to sort out as they worked to restore electricity service to the city. (The National/CBC Archives)

The people tasked with getting the lights on had to triage their efforts to some degree, as a result of the logistical problems caused by the storm.

"Crews have been on duty round the clock for two days, trying to make sure the power is on when people arrive at work tomorrow morning," Vaughan said, noting that power was unlikely to be fully restored in various residential areas for days.

Kerosene, fireplaces and Ping-Pong

woman wearing parka
This woman said her fireplace was keeping her family warm and her children were also playing table tennis in an effort to keep warm. (The National/CBC Archives)

And while city residents accepted the problems would take time to sort out, they still had to heat their homes and feed their families in the interim.

Those needs meant many had to turn to stocking up on kerosene to fill their heaters. Fireplaces were also coming in handy for those who had them.

"It's chilly up there. I've got the fireplace going for the kids, to keep them warm," a woman filling up her car at a gas station told The National.

"And they're playing Ping-Pong to keep warm."

At least $4M in damage

Fallen tree blocking roadway
The CBC's Michael Vaughan said the ice storm had knocked down a large number of trees across St. John's, which made for tricky driving in some cases. (The National/CBC Archives)

After the weekend, officials provided estimates on the damage the ice storm had caused.

"The cost of the repairs will be about $4.5 million and the federal government offered today to cover up to 90 per cent of that amount," the CBC's Barbara Yaffe told viewers on The National, in a follow-up report that aired on April 16, 1984.

St. John's saw 75 per cent of its power restored by Monday, as a result of the hard work by utility crews.

A multimillion-dollar cleanup

40 years ago
Duration 1:48
Officials believed the ice storm of 1984 had caused at least $4 million in damage.

"So you work until late in the night and they send you home for three or four hours and you get a couple hours rest and come back in, in the morning," hydro linesman Kevin Pope said, when describing the situation to CBC News.

The Globe and Mail newspaper would report that the mid-April ice storm was estimated to have knocked down 1,000 utility poles, along with dozens of transmission towers and structures.

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