1.29.2014

Thoughts on the Southern Winter Storm

I can't speak for any state, city, or area other than my own, but it's making me cringe, literally cringe, to hear people (not affected at all by this winter storm) so easily state that the south can't handle two inches of snow or two inches of snow closes the whole city.

Where I live, it's most definitely not the two inches of snow that have closed businesses, left thousands stranded on the interstate, and claimed lives. No, not the snow. It's the ice.

People see a photo of miles of abandoned cars on a major interstate with a barely-there dusting of snow and assume we're pathetic. We're scared. We're stupid. (which, from what I can tell, is already a general assumption of most of us below the Mason-Dixon line). What you don't see in that photo is the one-half to two inches of ice under that non-threatning bit of snow.

I've lived deep in the appalachian mountains. I've driven down snow-covered, steep mountain roads and I've driven around snow-coovered, sharply curved mountain roads. My car never slid and it was never damaged or abandoned. However, put a thin layer of ice under that snow, then it's a game-changer. The type of game-changer that takes lives. The kind of game-changer that causes (thousands of) children to have to spend the night at school because it's impossible for vehicles (including four and all wheel drive) to get any where. The kind of game-changer that shuts down an entire city.

The thing about the south: we're prepared for extreme heat and we're prepared for hurricane season. We expect these things during their appropriate season. What we don't expect is a large winter storm dropping hours of freezing rain, sleet, and ice and then topping it with a couple inches of snow all while temperatures stay below 20. We especially don't expect it when the day before, it was 60 degrees.

Unfortunately, not everyone everywhere is prepared for everything. We down here in the south expect a winter storm of this magnitude the way a state like North Dakota might expect a significant hurricane; the way Hawaii might expect a large tornado; or the way New York might expect a week of temperatures above 90 with impossible humidity.

Yes, you're right, everything does shuts down here in the south when any type of wintery precipitation falls. We shut down because most people down here aren't experienced to drive through this weather. Our cities and states down here don't have the infrastructure to prepare the roads prior or clear the roads quickly afterwards... for something of this magnitude that might happen once every decade.

People are stranded without food/water and in extreme cases, have lost their life; this is our reality at the moment. It's also a reality that many people, not effected, are laughing at us. People are taking to social media and putting the south at the end of a thoughtless joke. Where's the humanity?

My whole point for this post: I just hate that we are a nation, a people, a human race that act so juvenile at times - picking and choosing which devastating situations warrant sympathy. And then (some) using that devastating situation to further prove their ignorant assumption regarding our intelligence.

Let the comments flow...

2 comments:

Danielle said...

Thank you for posting this Linley! I completely agree with you. I live in Louisiana and many have this backwoods assumption about how we live our lives here.
When all is said and done, most of us are doing the best we can regardless of where we live and we are all dealing with something (drought in California, ice in the South, non stop snow up north, and just the everyday struggle of just trying to keep up with life). This world just needs a little more humility and consideration for the circumstances that others are dealing with.

Lyosha said...

thanks for sharing. It's very interesting and informative to read it from different part of world.