Mother Nature blew through on a quick visit last week just to remind us mere mortals who’s really in charge of the world.
A powerful combination of wintry precipitation and frigid temperatures brought much of the northern half of Georgia to a screeching halt, closing businesses, schools and roads while forcing families to hunker down at home and wait out the gust and gales of early January.
The negative financial impact of last week’s snow and ice will no doubt be yet another hardship for a state battling ongoing economic woes.
For those natives of the nation’s northern states who have relocated to Georgia, last week’s storm was much ado about nothing in terms of snow and temperature, as some have reminded us. But for natives of the South it was a major blizzard.
With transportation at a complete standstill and roads impassable for days, there were those quick to complain that local governments weren’t adequately prepared and didn’t do enough to get traffic back on the roads sooner.
Tell that to the state and local road crews who had people working night and day in the bitter cold.
The truth is, we simply aren’t prepared for a storm such as last week’s, and unless we are willing to invest huge sums of money into equipment that seldom is used and keep on hand on a permanent basis the manpower to use it, we aren’t going to be.
This isn’t Boston or New York, where it makes sense to have a fleet of snowplows on hand for use dozens of times each winter. This is North Georgia, where last week’s show of nature’s power may not be repeated for decades.
So how much is it worth to you to be prepared for the next wintry gale? Ready to have your taxes raised to hire more workers, just in case? How many millions do you want to take from other state and local needs to finance those snowplows sitting in a barn with cobwebs on them?
The state DOT alone last week was spending about $2 million a day in responding to the storm. How much more of your money do you want to add to that total in preparation for weather conditions we may never see again?
Sometimes, every problem just doesn’t have an immediate government fix. Maybe that’s a lesson we need to learn and apply to issues beyond those that can be tracked by the live action radar of local meteorologists.
To the road crews, public safety employees, firefighters, EMTs, utility workers, hospital staffers, tow truck drivers and all of those who worked long, cold hours fighting the elements last week, we say thanks.
Let’s also offer a pat on the back to all the neighbors who pitched in together to shovel off driveways, help clear community streets, share groceries and in general took things into their own hands. There’s a lesson in there somewhere too.
Now we’ve survived the blizzard of 2011; at least we hope there will be only one. Sure there are things that can be done better next time around, but all-in-all, it could have been a lot worse.