Take care in winter storms

Kimberly P. Mitchell/Tribune News Service

This editorial appeared in the Press-Republican on Jan. 18:

PLATTSBURGH — With the first real winter storm in our region settling in, we are reminded of the power of Mother Nature and the need to take caution in extreme weather.

[The Jan. 17] snowstorm dumped several inches of fresh powder onto the region, creating a beautiful but potentially dangerous landscape. Roads are still slippery; sidewalks are mostly covered; it’s cold; and traveling whether by vehicle or foot can be treacherous — and we must take care.

As residents of the north country, we are used to such conditions. But we must not let our guards down. Remember what was going here 24 years ago when a powerful ice storm knocked out power throughout the region and created life-threatening conditions for weeks.

It started on Monday, Jan. 5, 1998. And by the end of that week, hundreds of power poles and trees were snapped in two or worse, and power lines were strewn all over roads and fields throughout the north country.

Those first few nights looked like a battlefield as bright blue explosions dotted the landscape every few minutes as power lines snapped under the weight of so much ice. Dozens upon dozens of utility crews from throughout the Northeast and beyond were summoned to the area to fix the damage, which would take weeks.

Residents resorted to storing refrigerated foods in snowbanks and lighting up their wood stoves for warmth. Those without wood stoves used portable gas or propane heaters and bundled up mightily.

Generators, many of which had been sitting idle for years in garages, were suddenly thrown into action, providing power to at least run the necessities. Neighbors helped neighbors, and the state sent the National Guard to help out as well. Remnants of the ice storm can still be seen today in the form of broken and rotting trees.

While [the Jan. 17] storm was nowhere near as bad as the Ice Storm of 1998, let it serve as a reminder that extreme weather can be thrust upon us at a moment’s notice, and we must be prepared.

Have plenty of non-perishable foods and water on hand as well as an ample supply of batteries and flashlights. Stock up on wood if you have a wood stove, and make sure you have enough gasoline to power generators or snowblowers. Look out for neighbors and avoid unnecessary travel.

Fortunately, [Jan. 17] was a holiday as we honored the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and schools and government centers were all closed, making cleanup of roads a bit easier for plow crews who definitely earned their money.

And remember, if you are traveling, make sure all snow and ice is cleaned off your vehicle before heading out. Snow and ice flying off a vehicle traveling down the road can be hazardous, not to mention it can also be illegal.

This is winter, folks. And as we’ve said, we are used to it. But let’s make sure we take an extra step or two to make sure it is a safe and happy winter.

© 2022 Press-Republican

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