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Experiences of a Dutch Journalist




Snowstorm Diary, 4-7 January 2003

The famous Russian writer Chekhov, who visited Sakhalin at the end of the 19th century, wrote: "Sakhalin doesn't have a climate, just weather". True, although it is very unlikely not to be overtaken by a blizzard in January. This year, horizontal snowfall started on Saturday January 4, which was a working day. Transportation was still possible that first day. This diary starts on the second day, when things turned really bad...


January 5, 6:30am. View from the window on the second floor of our house. Back to bed, as it would not only take hours to dig us out, it would take even longer before the roads in town were cleared.


January 4, 8:30am. The dark spot in front of the house is a compound worker shoveling his way to the door of our neighbour.


January 4, 9:30am. The only way out is to start shoveling from the garage using a stepladder to get onto the snow (as we had found out two years earlier, when the snow came even one metre higher).

What that wooden thing is? It's a sledge of native people that I found along the track from the eastern to the western side of the island. Today, restored copies of this type of sledge can only be seen in museums. Going to get a tough time with customs to get this Russian artifact out of the country (take it apart, pack it and ship it as skis or firewood, I guess.....).


January 4, 10:30am. Only two metres to go and we are freed at last!


January 4, 11:00. Time for a walk around the compound. These people would be trapped inside their house a little longer. The spot in the middle in front of the houses is a car...


Stop! Watch out for... Snowslides?


January 4, 15:00pm. Nude bathing in the Jacuzzi for once, no voyeurs!


January 4, 18:00. Emile had brought his computer home having learnt from previous experiences - being snowed in for two days is nothing...


January 6, 9:00am. It has stopped snowing!


January 6, 16:00pm. Yes, the compound workers did an amazing job.


January 6, 17:00pm. They hadn't cleared the entrance to our neighbour's door, knowing he wasn't at home. But we had to feed his cat! Another 30 minutes of shoveling for me...


January 7, 11:00am. On this main road usually four cars drive next to each other. The police sparsely gives permits to cars and buses (on January 6 only two ambulances, two fire engines and one police car were allowed on the road).


January 7, 12:00am. Transportation or not, slowly life turns back to normal. A second snowstorm was predicted but held off.