ON A BITTERLY COLD MORNING A few years ago, Eleanor McQueen awoke to what sounded like artillery fire: the ice-covered branches of trees
cracking in the wind. A winter storm had knocked
out the power in the rural New Hampshire home
that Eleanor shared with her husband, Jim. “No
heat, no water. Nada,” Eleanor recalls.
The outage lasted for nine days; the couple, both
82 at the time, weathered the ordeal in isolation
with the help of a camp stove. Their three grown
kids were spread out in three different states, and
the McQueens weren’t very close to their immedi-
ate neighbors. “We needed someone to see if we
were dead or alive,” Eleanor says.
BY MARTHA THOMAS