"Snowmageddon" - a personal experience with lessons for all

The Mid-Atlantic region was recently walloped with back-to-back snowstorms. Unusually high accumulations fell and blizzard-like conditions persisted for nearly 24 hours. The storm was uncharacteristic of the winter events we have had over the past ten years. The region had grown complacent seeing as how the last major winter weather event was back in the mid-nineties. Government and privately owned snow removal equipment had sat in the corner collecting dust for years. The snow shovels were all rusted or were relegated to garage sales.

Read on for how this person's experience contributes to a fear that may well affect you someday. Start your personal preparedness by taking the Readiness Profile. But first, continue....

"As a farm equipment dealer (an occupation I came to via my agricultural background), I had a huge influx of calls as the news broke regarding the impending snow storm. The most common question: "Do you have any snowblowers?"

"Unfortunately for me (and the callers) I was sold out of them in December after the first wintry blast. We did not restock because we held the five "brand new" snowblowers we had back in December for over five years. Then the parts calls began pouring in: "Do you have chains?" "Do you have shear pins?" Then the service calls: "My snowblower won't start!" "I just got a storm sewer grate caught in my snowblower's auger!"

While we kept customers happy for the most part, as the storm drew closer and eventually descended upon us, people grew increasingly rude, aggravated, and short tempered. I spent the week constantly reminding myself of the old adage, "the customer is always right." It wasn't easy at times.

What caught my attention the most though was how grossly unprepared the average person was in regards to the storm. Our dealership is located in a nice area nestled north of Washington, DC and West of Baltimore, MD. While we have a strong farm community, the bedroom communities have sprung up. We have two customer bases, farmers and homeowners. As you can imagine, my farmers, even some who had major breakdowns in equipment due to the snow, were not an issue. These people understand that I am not a miracle worker and they know how to improvise when things go wrong.
The homeowner crowd was not so easy going. People became livid when we ran out of snowblower belts, not satisfied by the fact that we were the only place open during the storm. People were angry because they could not buy a snowblower in the state of Maryland as snow was falling on their driveways. Folks drove...after it was made clear by various sources that this was not a good idea. They got their Hyundai's and Prius's stuck. Route 340 eventually had to be shut down because dozens of motorists were stranded on it. Thousands lost power and had to retreat to friends' and families' homes because they did not have a generator. This led to more accidents and more road closures. The state of Maryland gave up at noon that Wednesday and called off all plowing operations. The National Guard directed traffic and rescued motorists. The area around my dealership was abuzz with Humvees, and when the wind died down, helicopters circled about. It was like living in a disaster area.

However, it was no disaster, or should I say, "it didn't have to be a disaster." Those of us who were prepared did not rush to the supermarkets buying six gallons of milk for a family of three "just in case." I for one sat at home the night prior to the storm and worked on my kitchen remodel. On Wednesday I got up early, drove my pickup truck to work as the blizzard began...worked all day, spent the night there, and was up early Thursday to snowblow our business out and help neighbors. I even pulled a state highway truck out of a ditch with one of our bigger tractors. Meanwhile, my spouse stayed at home with the dog and took care of things around the house. It did not feel like an emergency to either of us.

Why didn't it feel like an emergency? We were prepared. When the weather broke loose, we kept our heads. While others were running around like mad men (and women) trying to do who knows what, I was able to help my neighbors and run the business that provides for me. After the volume and type of calls I have received in the past week, I fear the day a REAL emergency happens - not because I am unprepared, but because everyone else is.

This is all the more reason to prepare yourself and to work with those in your community to do the same.

Dated February 13, 2010. Anonymous. Shared with permission. ( © 2005-2009 GaryNorth.Com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited.)

CEN encourages preparedness as a Christian citizen's duty, but also to be a source of calm and hope in any type and scope of crisis. Local CEN Chapters springing up across the nation can help you prepare to respond to local emergencies on behalf of the Greater Church, with great impact.