Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010 - Lessons Learned

A week after the Blizzard of 2010 here are the lessons learned:

1) Always have a supply of fresh water on hand in case of emergencies.

2) Always have an alternative heating source available in case your lose power.

3) Always have an alternative light source (flashlight, candles) in case you lose power.

4) Always have non-perishable food on hand for extended power outages.

5) Always have a cell phone to contact the outside world for help

6) Always have a backup plan (or two) for evacuation for prolonged power outages

7) Do not depend on friends or neighbors to rescue you. They may be in the same or worse situation than you are in.

8) Be patient with those responsible for snow removal. Blizzards are not the norm and it will take longer for snow removal.

9) Don’t go out in a blizzard. Something that seems obvious but some people do stupid things thus putting their own lives and those that rescue them in danger.

10) Don’t vent your anger on others because someone isn’t immediately taking care of your needs. Remember, an emergency situation like a blizzard, it’s not just about you. We’re all in this together. Get over yourself.

These are just a few thoughts that came into my mind after witnessing the good and the bad that this blizzard brought out in people.

In my neighborhood we had one neighbor who complained that the guy scooping out the wall of frozen snow blocking his driveway wasn’t putting the scoops were he wanted them placed. Was the scooped snow blocking the road? No. Was it blocking his driveway? No. What was this neighbor’s problem? Maybe it was because he works for the lawn and landscaping company who offered to clear the roadways in our development for $5,000. We already had someone doing it for $1,000. They also offered to remove the snow from the roadways after the second storm for $4,000. Maybe he was pissed because he wasn’t successful in ripping us off at our moment of need. Remember, it’s not about you. We’re all in this together. Get over yourself.

We had another neighbor who called the HOA board member who was coordinating the snow removal. He was another one of these self important people. He threatened to sue the HOA board members personally unless the roads in the development, especially his path out to make more money (he’s an insurance salesman) was cleared immediately. Remember, it’s not about you. We’re all in this together. Get over yourself.

I have a friend who lives on 22 acres of wooded land. This past summer he took out his fireplace and put in a wood burning stove. I asked him why and he said “to save on my heating bills.” That made sense because he has tons of wood just lying around on his 22 acres wooded parcel. When he called (after his power came back on) he said he was afraid he was “going to freeze to death.” I asked him about his stove. He said he had no wood. He didn’t prepare any for the stove. Friend, take responsibility for your own action (or lack thereof) and be better prepared for the next emergency. 

In Lewes they found an 80 year old man buried in the snow. His body temperature was 27 degrees. He died a few hours later at the hospital. What was he doing outside during the blizzard? Where was he going?

This blog posting isn’t intended to dump on those who found themselves in a life threatening situation. It is only to bring to their attention that they should take responsibility for their own actions. Some decide to tough it out in their abode without power because they want to save money by not going to a hotel or save their dignity by not going to a shelter. These are choices that these people make. They need to accept responsibility for the position that their choices have put them. Anger doesn’t solve anything. Remember, it’s not about you. We’re all in this together. Get over yourself.

The good thing that came out of this blizzard is how unselfishly so many helped others. Much credit has to go to the Sussex Emergency Operations Center and to the National Guard. Their performance was outstanding. A friend of mine thought he was having a heart attack. His partner called 911 and the National Guard was at their snowbound doublewide (the same friend on 22 acres of wooded land without any wood for their stove) and the National Guard was there in less than 15 minutes and transported him to the Beebe Emergency Center. Thank goodness he didn’t have a heart attack but it was heartening to know that help was that close.

In my neighborhood, my neighbor who works as a physician’s assistant at the Beebe Emergency Center had just gotten off working 23 hours straight, parked at the entrance to our development (he couldn’t get in because there road was blocked and his SUV was stuck in the snow) and walked to the far end of the development where we live and immediately started to help my 81 year old partner shovel snow from our driveway. The next day I helped him to shovel out his driveway because now he couldn’t get out of the development because our development was still blocked at the entrance. My partner and I also help both of our other neighbors on the other side of our house to shovel out their driveways. While I was shoveling out my driveway, the young man driving the Bobcat front loader came by and scooped out the three foot wall high of frozen snow that was blocking my driveway. Seeing neighbors helping neighbors, that was the good part about this blizzard. No one was complaining about the “community” not helping them. We were helping each other.

When you’re not so focused on yourself but get out there and help others, you will find that “community” does help you. Leave the anger. It doesn’t help.  These people need to get over themselves.  What I find so interesting is those who demand the most help are those who are the least likely to help others.  These are people who feel entitled.  These are the people who are so blinded by their own selfishness that that are incapable of seeing the need to work together for the betterment of the whole community.  In their world view, it's all about them.  That insurance salesman neighbor of mine who was threatening to sue our HOA board members?  All he's interested in is getting out of here to make some more money because "he needs it."  Well, who doesn't need it?  Does anything think that for one moment he thought about his neighbors on either side of him and helping to shovel them out?  I had a friend call up seeking help.  Did he once ask how I was doing?  Of course not.  It was all about him. 

Yes, an emergency brings into focus what some people are really like.  I suppose that is one good thing that came out of this blizzard.  I'm glad I have good neighbors.


Nitewrit said...


And remember, if your power goes out and you are fearful of your food spoiling, put the frozen goods in trash bags and place them outside in the snow. Put your refrigerated idems outside in your car.

Of course this isn't good advice for the summer time power outages, but works in these blizzard months.

Went out to get the paper this morning and there was a little pole with a red heart on top stuck in the snow pile at the end of my drive. There was one in my neighbor's pile across the street, too. my wife thinks the Community Association put these in front of homes where the owners paid their dues. There was a sign up at the entrence this week saying, "Have a heart. pay your dues."

The snow has broke our Association budget. If this is why the hearts are out there it is startling because I don't see any more except me and the guy across the street on this block.


Ron Tipton said...


I sent a copy of your comment about HOA dues to my former boss and friend Bill Price. He lives outside of Pittsburgh and is treasurer of his HOA. He says they are over budget this year BIG TIME. I don't know how many of his homeowners are behind in their dues but this is a good idea putting a red heart on a stick outside the home of those who haven't paid their dues. I am very thankful to our HOA board members and the job they do. It is a thankless job. Thank goodness we have some people who care enough to help their fellow neighbors.

By the way, that is good advice about putting the frozen items outside in the snow. Of course I couldn't put anything in my car because I have a garage. However, for those who don't have a garage and their car are parked outside, I guess they can use their car as a refrigerator. A friend of mine did this very thing. He has a ready made freezer in his car.