This is the label that has been placed on the Atlanta catastrophe caused by a 2.3-2.6-inch snowfall. The result was people stranded on roadways and in schools for 24 plus hours. I heard that children, who were taken off of buses, were taken to Krogers and Home Depots. Should city officials have heeded the warnings of the weather service in a more proactive way?
Probably. Should Atlanta schools have been closed on Tuesday? Yes. Should the Emergency Operations Center have been opened prior to the event? Probably. Would a staggered closing of things in Atlanta have made a difference in the traffic gridlock? Maybe. Let’s change gears right in the middle of this scenario, and consider a cruise ship that just docked in New Jersey with 629 people that contracted the Norovirus, while on this cruise. Those 629 people would consider this their apocalyptic situation.
What will happen to us here in Chesterfield the next time that an infrequent, but devastating disaster strikes in our region? We are good at blaming others, whether we are the governor of a state blaming the National Weather Service, or we are stranded motorists that have to live in our cars for 24 plus hours. It is easy to blame government leaders, especially when it appears that they have failed to lead. Many have also been led to believe that government should be large enough to handle every one of their needs. I happen to believe that natural disasters and infrequent, yet devastating events cause all of us to have to act differently. Tuesday, Jan. 28, became an abnormal day for people that usually never see accumulating snow often.
As I have so often said, far too many people believe that the unbelievable will never happen to them. What if it does? What if you will be stranded on the highway in extremely cold conditions for about the next 24 hours? What will you do? How much gas is in your vehicle right this moment? Do you have any food or water in your vehicle? Different thought, what if an ice storm hits and we lose power for, in some cases, two weeks? What will you do? Who else will you help? Or, what will you do if you find yourself on a cruise ship where the ship catches fire or someone boards with a communicable disease?
I know that this may seem like a great deal of rambling, but my point is that whether we are just an everyday citizen, or a government leader, we have responsibilities. From our members of the Board of Supervisors to the President of the United States, each are elected to fulfill a particular job. On the flip side, each of us must be prepared for the unexpected. Atlanta officials will have to recover from this black eye and learn from it. Don’t be so quick to think that it could never happen here. Future natural and man-made disasters will continue to occur. I did not even broach the water contamination situation that occurred in the Charleston, West Virginia area. I will be traveling to Cincinnati this weekend, and plan to avoid having to stop in or around Charleston.
Each of us needs to heed warnings of weather service personnel, as well as the warnings of government officials. So many times, we think that we know best. If asked to stay off of the roads, then do so. If asked to evacuate, then do so. If caught in a bad situation, do everything possible to get out of it as safely as possible. To those who can assist others caught in a disaster, realize that it is an abnormal day. You might say that it is not your responsibility, but what would you want someone to do for you or your child if the tables were turned? Do the right thing.