Digging Out

We experienced our biggest snow storm in over thirty years!

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The historic snow storm hit with a vengeance on December 26 and 27.  The forecasts turned out to be right on target, as we received 11.5″ of the white stuff.

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Today, eight days after the snow stopped falling, we are still covered up at our house.  The melt-off has been painfully slow in our neighborhood, and we have not had any assistance in clearing streets that are not considered “major” streets.  While the overall response initially was nothing short of heroic, in my opinion, the extended response has been very problematic, if not just plain non-existent.

Hubby and I shoveled snow for three days last week in an effort to clear our driveway, part of the street and some of our elderly neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk so that we and/or her family could get to her, if needed.  Our street does not have thru traffic on it, so it is going to take a very long time for it to melt off at our present prevailing temperatures.  Our house faces north, so our front areas caught the brunt of the drifts that were caused by brutal winds of up to 60 mph at times.  I also had to buy a new pair of boots more suitable for this type of snow activity, after I pretty much ruined my one pair of Uggs in the snow.  Fortunately, I found a great pair of Michael Kors lined rubber boots on sale on New Year’s Day and even had a $20 off coupon to subtract from the sale price.  If you have to wear rubber boots, these are a great option, for sure.

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Michael Kors “Devenport” Rain Boots

All of the bad stuff aside, though, it was a truly beautiful snowfall with some epic drifts all around.  As a hobby photographer, I was so sad that I was unable to get out of the house to properly photograph some sights in the area as they were covered by the largest snowfall here in over 30 years, the third largest snowfall in the history of our area.  We ramped up feeding the birds in our yard, so I was able to take some delight in photographing them in the backyard as they dined on their feast of birdseed amid the rare snow-covered beauty.

We also had fun with the dogs, especially watching them maneuver the snow in their familiar backyard turf.  They had such a great time, once they got over some initial hesitation about maneuvering around the drifts.  They were like kids in a candy store, and we laughed and laughed at them throughout the week as they played hard outside in the white stuff.

The largest recorded snowfall here was in 1983, and we personally experienced that 16.9″ of snow and all of the many issues caused in our area at that time.  The second largest snowfall was in 1956 before we were born, so we can only personally compare this storm to the ’83 storm.  The main difference in the two historic storms was the wind.  The ’83 storm did not have the high winds to cause such problematic, but beautiful, drifts like this most recent storm caused.

The damage from the storm here is extensive, and Hubby’s company was just one of many that were hit hard.  Like many other businesses, including our big mall, sections of roofs collapsed under the large drifts that were caused in areas of roofs that were uneven, causing the snow to pile in up certain areas where it was trapped.  I heard this morning that some assistance may eventually be available to those that suffered storm damage, but so far, nothing has been made available, except coverage in effect from private insurance.

If such a historic snow storm had to hit, at least it hit during a week when schools were out of session for the Christmas holidays.  I doubt that schools here could have opened at all last week, due to the poor road conditions.  The snow started falling on Saturday evening, and we were not able to get out in our car until the following Thursday, and it was still problematic that day, too.  We just do not have the same snow removal resources that other northern areas have, nor does it make financial sense to have them to that degree.  However, we do need more than we have at this time, and that fact was made perfectly clear when so many emergency vehicles got stuck in the first two days of the storm.  Many individuals with four-wheel drive vehicles had to literally come to their rescue.  And, as to add insult to the injury in all of this, the city manager left town for the week, and the deputy city manager apparently never even showed up to the emergency operations center while it was activated.  There are already calls by prominent people in the community for their removal from their positions, which is quite understandable.

City officials anticipated that 20-30 people would die in this massive storm, but only one person died.  A homeless man was offered shelter by several different people and one care group, but he refused to come to the shelter anonymously.  There is not much that can be done in that situation, as he could not be forced to go.  Our elderly neighbors were appreciative of the fact that we had our motor home in front of the house, prepared to fire up the generator and take care of as many neighbors as possible in the event that we lost electricity.  Many areas suffered from outages, but thankfully, our neighborhood was good throughout the storm.  One neighbor across the street told us that she thought it might even be fun if we all had to bail out to the motor home together, and she even offered to bring food!  Who knows, it might have been pretty fun after all.

One more tragic result of this storm was the loss of many cattle throughout the panhandle area.  Dairy farms to the north have tragically lost thousands of head of cattle.  Closer to home, many cattle broke free from their fences by walking over them on drifts of snow or through them when they fell.  They took to the roads and even the freeways in town, and one herd was seen on a main road very close to where we live.  Another herd  showed up at a friend’s house that lives just outside of her small town not far away, but she was able to locate their owner through social media.  A group has now been created on Facebook to help reunite cattle with their owners in the area, too.

So, to sum things up at present, we are able to get out in our cars, even though the neighborhood streets are pretty problematic.  City and area officials have a lot to think about and change in their respective responses.  Many homes and business are dealing with extensive damage to roofs and water inside.  But, I’ve never been more proud of the private citizens here that came to the rescue of anyone that needed help during this difficult time.  So many people, especially farmers and ranchers, own 4×4 pickups, and *many* of them just spent those first days after the storm towing out stuck cars and transporting doctors and nurses to work.  We helped as we could, primarily helping our little elderly neighbor “weather the storm.”  Maybe someday, some nice person will do the same for us, if needed.

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