The Blizzard of 1967 was no slouch either, but 1978 will always be the benchmark by which blizzards in Michigan are measured. The morning it hit I recall being woken up by my mother who informed me that school was cancelled that day (and ended up being cancelled for over a week!) and I asked "so why are you waking me up?" and she answered tersely providing no more explanation than "after you've eaten breakfast you need to grab a snow shovel". My father happened to be working in Warsaw, IN when the blizzard hit and was stranded there at a manufacturing plant (he eventually made his way to an employees house in the area who had a snowmobile). I remember me and my brother opening the garage door with great difficulty. A large snow drift had formed along the length of the front of our house and only about two inches of daylight was visible near the top of the garage door. We gave up on shoveling that day after realizing that there was 1) nowhere to put the snow; 2) there was no street to drive on even if we did manage to clear the driveway; 3) it was clear that it was going to just keep snowing and snowing and anything we would have shoveled would have been buried under several more feet of snow during the next 3 days.
The Good: During this crisis the community came together as it never had before or since. At our house we lost power for only a day and a half but managed to keep our (gas) heat, but folks with heating oil furnaces were screwed when/if they ran out that week. A family of five down the street ran out during this time and we put them up for a night. Groceries were another big problem – even the big stores were unable to open their doors for business for several days and once they were able to open only had the barest skeleton crews. I heard eight people who happened to live within walking distance were running the local Meijers (which normally has scores of staff on the floor and cash registers). Many folks who owned snowmobiles volunteered to help out their neighbors and would buy items at the grocery store.
The Bad: The blizzard of 78 claimed over 50 lives and a couple of them were local. Most of the fatalities were the elderly who lost heat/power and stranded motorists.
The Ugly: Some of the folks who were able to make it to the grocery stores once they were able to open started hoarding items and since no restocking was possible things like milk and eggs quickly became memories. It also turned out that not everyone who owned a snowmobile had a good heart – several area businesses got looted during this time using snowmobiles to make their haul/getaway.
What are your recollections of natural (or other) disasters?