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Dodging the bullet of Ion

My Opinion
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor

Old Man Winter, this time going by the name of Ion, recently roared his ugly head, reminding us that it is the season of snow, ice and cold temperatures.
Harrison Countians were only grazed by Winter Storm Ion’s bullet, rather than being temporarily crippled like others in his path.
Undoubtedly, it was bitter cold earlier this week, prompting the cancellation or postponement of some events. And schoolchildren had their Christmas break extended by two days, which Indiana Supt. of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz decided won’t need to be made up.
But, when you look at what was predicted and what was delivered to our neighbors to the north, it could have been much worse here.
We were given ample time to prepare for the polar vortex that delivered single-digit temperatures ‘ both positive and negative ‘ and that cut-to-the-bone wind chill that dipped into double digits on the negative side.
Of course, there were still those people who waited until the 11th hour to get needed supplies, like milk and bread, creating jammed aisles at the grocery stores. Others were likely doing their regular shopping and just got caught in the crossfire. However, there were no reports of casualties due to fights over last remaining loaves of bread or gallons of milk.
Because of the timing of the storm system’s arrival, it provided the perfect excuse to stay indoors and watch TV. Football fans were treated to nail-biting wildcard games in the warmth of their homes while perhaps only shaking their head at those at Lambueau Field watching the Green Bay Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers in frigid conditions.
We have our own people who brave the elements, not for pleasure, but because their job demands it. Among them are postal carriers, garbage collectors and delivery drivers. Their work didn’t stop just because it was cold. Once their shift ended, however, they were able to call it a day and stay indoors, if that’s where they wanted to spend it.
Another group that often has to work outdoors is emergency personnel: our firefighters, police officers and medical services people. Not only do they respond when called, they may have to travel on treacherous roads to get there only to find unfavorable working conditions (i.e. uncleared driveways, icy sidewalks, freezing water sources). They may barely have time to warm up before the next call for aid comes.
Then there are the highway crews. Those employees have to treat the roads in preparation of the storm system, then they are called upon to keep the roads clear for motorists. That often requires working overtime, translating to nights and weekends, additional time away from their families.
These workers seem to get a lot of criticism. People complain about how the roads were pretreated and how long it took for roads to be cleared. Sometimes comments are misdirected, blaming county highway workers for how a job is done on state highways.
There are approximately 821 miles of county roads in Harrison County. That’s a lot of area to cover. And the highway department has perimeters to work within, including a budget and the timing of inclement weather. Certain road treatments can’t be used on surfaces that are already wet, say, from rain.
We as individuals also can make a difference in how well we fare through any storm.
For instance, we should have a survival kit at home and, especially when wintry weather is forecasted, one in our vehicle. They don’t have to be elaborate; things like a flashlight, ready-to-eat high-energy foods, a supply of drinking water, extra batteries, cell phone charger and blankets can be a great start. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order to avoid being stranded.
If asked to stay off the roadways, we should abide by the request when possible. It allows for others to do their jobs. This go-round seemed to work well, with minimal reports of slide-offs or other calls for assistance.
As able, clear a path to your mailbox and to a door, if not your driveway, to your home. Again, it helps those whom you may call upon or ones who need access to your property.
From the date of this newspaper, there are 71 days until spring’s arrival. Of course, we’ve witnessed winter’s effects after March 20, but they generally don’t linger long.
Let’s hope Old Man Winter fails to fire off any more major storm systems our way. However, let’s be prepared if he does.