In these parts, that means responding to a historic, crippling ice storm with forbearance, good will and neighborliness.
All over the CSRA, folks have yielded at intersections uncontrolled by sleeping traffic lights, taken in cold friends without power – and even patrolled the neighborhood with chainsaws to free one another.
We can’t stop the wind or the rain or the ice or the snow. But we can do the aftermath of such things however we choose.
The Augustans we’ve been talking to who still didn’t have power as of Friday were exceptionally serene, especially for cold, hungry, shower-starved folk. Instead of complaining, they were acclaiming: We know the utility employees are working hard on it, and we appreciate all they’re doing to restore electricity to the area – that’s the pleasant refrain we’ve been hearing.
Yes, there are exceptions who are cursing the skies, and the utilities that bring us such incredible comforts as toasty nights, warm meals and hot baths. But that’s what makes them exceptions; they’re vastly outnumbered by the patient and empathetic.
The discerning among us understand that not only are the power crews working overtime to attend to our comfort, but are doing so at great discomfort to their own selves, and away from their own families. It’s hard – at least when you’re doing it right – to get mad at a guy from Florida who’s sleeping in a powerless motel room or even a tractor-trailer to get you up and running again.
We don’t mind bragging on our news colleagues, either. Our friends at area broadcast stations have worked hard and braved dangerous conditions to bring people vital storm and post-storm information. So have our teammates in The Augusta Chronicle’s newsroom, where several stalwarts spent the night to keep the digital fires burning.
And while there were some service interruptions for safety’s sake, the Post Office has nothing on our newspaper carriers’ fortitude in the teeth of wintry weather.
One of the lessons of this storm is how good we’ve got it with gas, electricity and other forms of energy to keep us warm, cool and connected. It’s hard to pick yourself up and get ahead when you can’t be comfortable or clean, and can’t keep perishables within easy reach.
These are things that less-developed nations know quite well, and which we take too much for granted.
Another lesson – maybe a
revelation, really – is just how easy it is to be unprepared for long or indeterminate power and food outages. Did you get a look at the lines Thursday outside any restaurant lucky enough to reopen? Or the
carnivorous crowd around the ready-to-eat counter at the grocery store? Have so many lost the ability – or perhaps the willingness – to feed themselves for more than a few hours?
We were very lucky this time, despite the catastrophic nature of the storm and the outages that have continued into this weekend. It actually could’ve been worse – and the weather after the storm could easily have been much less conducive to recovery. Consider: High temperatures Friday were expected to be in the 50s. Under similar circumstances, our friends in the Great North might go weeks without power in temperatures many times harsher. And what if stores and restaurants weren’t so quickly accessible again?
We’d encourage you to assess how you came through this relatively fast-moving crisis, and your and your family’s readiness for the unexpected.
Under more trying and protracted difficulties, the collective patience and civility we’ve seen this time around could be infinitely more tested.
You do the aftermath.