Archive for Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snowstorms put added stress on cities

January 21, 2010

The snow story continues like a bad novel about a serial killer. Just when one believes he or she may safely make an appointment to see the doctor or dentist or accept a social invitation, the horror returns, icing up sidewalks, pouring down frozen precipitation and wrapping us in hypothermia-inducing cold.

If that statement seems overdramatic, then you haven’t been living in this particular part of the United States during the last several weeks. Only a blind and senseless optimist could say that conditions have been good. A repair man visiting our home recently said that he was from Michigan and liked snow, but this had been a little bit too much even for him.

The real problem for us is that we are not prepared to deal with continuing snow and bitter cold. My husband and I had to have our driveway cleared four times in less than optimal conditions during the past few weeks.

Our grandson, son-in-law, my husband, neighbors and a person looking for work all put in a lot of time and effort clearing our driveway only to have it recovered with snow and ice. My husband got the car stuck when he went to the store and returned to a pile of snow just deposited in front of our driveway by a passing snowplow.

This situation, of course, is true for a whole metropolitan population. The snow just won’t go away. Snowplows move it around, but have to put it somewhere — and often in a place which keeps people from safely leaving and almost crash and burn trying to get over an icy heap of snow. I am a senior citizen with bad knees, but I know younger, abler people who have acquired potentially damaged knees from falling on the ice.

I don’t know what the answer is for the situation. Our cities are stressed over greater citizen needs and less money to pay for basic services. I know city officials are doing the best they can for a weather condition they couldn’t have anticipated.

Not only are city agencies overwhelmed by the situation, but agencies set in place to help the poor and homeless are being stretched to capacity.

The fact of the matter is that humans cannot survive in subzero temperatures without adequate food and clothing. One of the terrible inequities of life is that sometimes people are evicted from their homes in this kind of weather. There are those of us who do not believe that any of us who are in hard circumstances are due mercy. They say, “They are in trouble because they were unwise with their money or they are lazy and don’t want to work.” But, how can we judge them and sentence them to a cruel death just because we might not approve of some of their actions? And, how can we say that we were deserving and not simply lucky?

I think that we should hesitate before we sentence others whether they be hungry or sick or cold. We could be in trouble with the next snowstorm if we get caught out on the road during a deluge of ice and snow. I would hope that if my car had gone off the road and I were stranded without warm clothing or a phone that a stranger passing by would take mercy on me just as the Good Samaritan once did for a complete stranger.


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