The power went out just past 11 p.m. one week ago today.
It wasn't until about Tuesday that things began to get back to normal after over 300,000 residents in New Hampshire sat in the dark and the cold and wondered just how much would they would have to burn to keep the pipes from freezing.
Out on the road Friday morning trying to navigate roads lined with down wires, tree limbs and other debris, fathoming the damage of the storm remained nearly impossible. Rockingham County had been hit hard; you could tell that just from the size of the trees that had been pulled out of the ground by the ice storm the night before.
Cellular service remained largely weak that morning and without Internet capabilities or a land line phone that meant hitting the road to find out what was going on. Passing under blank traffic signal after blank traffic signal - emergency generators had at that point not been set up at critical intersections - created an eery Mad Max effect. Only the near continuous howl of sirens in the background added to the mood.
Otherwise it was a perfectly normal winter day in New England.
Salem firefighter Dave O'Brien called it the most chaotic he'd seen his department in his 20 years of service to the community. Four days later, when the call volumes had dropped back to a level of normalcy, he told me the entire department had let out a sigh of relief.
While the duration of the power outage will surely end up raging into a public firestorm directed at someone - likely the utility companies like PSNH - those in public service became the shining bright spot in the whole mess. Most of the senior emergency management teams I met throughout the weekend and into this week worked days on end, only taking breaks to go home and make sure their families without power were okay. As Windham's Assistant Fire Chief Robert Leuci put it "We're out straight."
Still they remained cavalier at most times, joking with me when I showed up knocking on their door for more information.
"Are you out of power too?" I asked one firefighter as he took me to the Chief's office.
"Oh I'm fucked," he said. "No power at home, no heat, no running water. I'm just fucked."
The storm did not spare anyone and the nature of the subsequent crisis left the entire playing field level. No one had power and everyone wanted power. Windham's state representative spent several days after the storm staying in one of the Red Cross shelters set up in Salem, Londonderry and Nashua.
On Sunday I watched half of the Jets game at the Salem emergency relief shelter while I charged up my laptop and cellphone. In a town where at that point over 5,000 remained without power, only a handful had chosen to come to the shelter. The rest left town or stocked up on wood.
By Monday some sense of normalcy had returned to the southern portion of Rockingham County. While residents in nearby Derry still described their town as "a warzone," officials in Windham and Salem were reporting roads as cleared, whole neighborhoods back on the grid and the number of emergency calls returning to normal.
Still, there were some dark times.
On Tuesday a 77-year-old Salem resident succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. His was the fourth storm-related death since Thursday. Sadly, he died after power had been restored. His boiler malfunctioned and without working carbon monoxide or smoke detectors he never had a chance, Salem's fire marshal told me.
Misuse of generators or other alternative heating appliances resulted in dozens of hospitalizations across the state and were involved in at least one other death following the storm. In Windham two individuals were placed in a hyperbaric chamber to remove the carbon monoxide from their system. Salem's Chief Kevin Breen told me that going door to door his firefighters had found dozens of improperly used generators.
Ironically, though the storm had passed by Friday morning the worst was yet to come.
Now, seven days later things are still not back to normal. While Salem and Pelham are only reporting a few score of houses still without power, Windham has as many as 1,400 (myself included) and in Atkinson 20 percent of the town is in the dark.
And there's more winter weather on the way...