27 Feb 2019

A Wintery Attitude Change

Submitted by John T Reagan

Well, it's another snow day. Third in a row for this math teacher. I live in Eugene but work in Oakridge, 45 miles up Hwy 58 toward Willamette Pass. Oakridge has been without power and completely cut off from the outside world for about 5 days now. I can't help but wonder how the children I teach are doing. Most people rely on electricity to heat their homes, so my kids are likely really struggling with the cold. Only those who have wood or propane heat to supplement will be warm. The highway is still closed because the trees just keep falling and it's even been dangerous for the crews trying to clear the road. I understand that at one point they simply had to pull out. Even had some equipment damaged.

One thing this storm has accomplished is to make me rethink my attitude toward these "wimpy" Oregonians. For heaven's sake, they close schools in Eugene when all they have to contend with is a measly single inch of snow! This Idaho boy has been laughing at such overreactions. But this storm, with well over a foot of snow here in town, has made me realize that it really isn't a matter of the magnitude of a storm, but the preparation one has for it. I have studded snow tires on my car, but why, here in the Willamette Valley where rain is constant and snow is a rarity, would anyone invest in studded snow tires? They really aren't needed. So, since everyone has (relatively) smooth tires on their cars, it's no wonder that even only an inch of snow causes a lot of traffic problems. But, it's the current state of Hwy 58 that has made me really rethink things. Even nature itself isn't prepared for a storm of this magnitude. Back home in Montana, our friends are only wishing they had "only" a foot of snow and the hard winter, while it does affect the forests, the forests there are "used" to such things. Here, that much snow is toppling trees at such a rate that highway crews can't keep up with it and a town of 3500 people has been completely isolated from the rest of the world for day after weary day. The forest is prepared for the kinds of weather that are normal, exceed those limits and trees start falling everywhere.

So, I am going to change my base attitude. This is truly causing a lot of hardship for a lot of people and making fun of that hardship is anything but fun.

Here's a link to a news story about Oakridge.