My husband and I just returned from a holiday trip visiting a relative and friend in the south. We missed the blizzard. We saw some of the blizzard news reports including the one in which the county executive was criticizing the city for being the last municipality to clear their streets. That helps how? Now that we are home, I am reading the news articles profiling some of the people who died in the blizzard as well as a recent Another Voice essay with suggestions for better combatting future blizzards. I suggest a few more. We are in this together is a rather over-used expression lately, but it is true, especially in blizzard conditions.
When I read of victims running out of their vital oxygen supplies or being found in snowbanks, I think of what could have prevented their deaths. I believe the area had four or five days notice of the blizzard. As a community and as individuals, this time could have been used to warn and prepare people. Medical offices, community centers, churches could have assisted in getting the word out to their most vulnerable patients and members. A warning to make sure oxygen and necessary medical supplies were stockpiled might have saved lives. Those individuals who depend on electricity to provide needed medical assistance and cannot afford generators could have been helped by going to a warming center. As family members and neighbors, reaching out to those we know are vulnerable to help prepare them doesn’t seem like a hard task. The days leading up to the blizzard could have been filled with emails, texts, phone calls or personal visits to people plus public announcements on television and radio. The message in all of these would have been that the blizzard coming is a killer. Do not drive in it; do not go outside. Stay home or go to a warming center before the blizzard arrives.
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I don’t think it takes a lot of advanced degrees or highly-paid consultants to implement some basic life-saving ideas. Clearing snow after a blizzard is a different task, but warnings and appropriate preparation before they happen is something in which we all can participate.