Monday, July 1, 2013

The Blizzard of '78

Before I became a children’s book author, I was a Registered Respiratory Therapist. When the Blizzard of 78 struck, I was on duty at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston.
The Blizzard was supposed to be a six inch snowfall. Instead, it was a winter hurricane that dropped more than 25 inches of snow on the Boston area.
When I was on duty, my Medical Director asked me to retrieve some articles in the basement.
When I came back to the eighth floor of the Farley building which was where the Respiratory Department was located, there was a total whiteout.
Normally, when someone looked out the windows of the department, he/she could see Fenway Park and the Green Monster.
Looking to the left, one could see the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square.
On that day, you couldn't see anything. I was frightened.
The city was paralyzed for an entire week. On the following Saturday, Governor Mike Dukakasis gave everyone with a suburban address on their driver’s license permission to go home.
The week was surreal. If you looked out the windows when the snow finally stopped, it looked like a scene from a World War II movie on the late show.
Two troop carriers were parked on Longwood Avenue. A military helicopter flew overhead.
National Guard troops were in the cafeteria ready to assist us.
Luckily, two of the nurses that I worked with had apartments around the corner. Respiratory therapists staked out a section of the living room floor to sleep on.
We staffed the department by having one therapist work the night shift for the week. One therapist worked the day and evening shifts for the week. The third therapist stayed in the department to wash and sterilize the equipment.
Family members were stranded and the hospital put them up. Food in the cafeteria was free.
I was a respiratory therapist for many years; thank God this was my first and last experience with a disaster.

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