On my iPhone, I have an app which allows me to listen to Racine Police and Rescue calls. It is probably my favorite thing about that phone. On Tuesday night, I heard the howling wind blowing (worried the windows would break) and I would periodically go to the living room to check on the snow levels. I was just stunned by the lack of visibility. I could barely see the house across the street. Around midnight, I decided to start listening to the scanner. I was hooked. At one point it honestly reminded me of an updated, winter version of War of the Worlds. Scary.
Call after call – these civil servants were reporting no visibility or mobility. According to The Journal Times, Racine County responded to over 40 stranded vehicles, about half with people stuck in their cars. With most squads and plows stuck in the deep blowing snow, The National Guard was brought in with Humvees; most of which also subsequently became stuck. Many stranded motorists were rescued from their cars by snowmobiles and officers on foot. There was such white out conditions that some officers could barely tell where they were. Winds blowing the massive downpour of snow topped over 50mph. And I have heard about drifts over 5-6 feet. We had them in our yard by the next day (pictures to follow).
Listening to this absolute craziness – that of which I have never witnessed before – I felt so terrible for these men and women who were braving this monster storm. I honestly couldn’t even IMAGINE having to do what they did.
The next morning, we woke up to visuals which dropped our jaws. I know it seemed to snow a lot more when I was a child…but I still do not believe I had ever seen so much snow. Huge drifts tempted me to swan dive into the white abyss like an excited child (I soon came to my senses). School and work were closed and we spent the whole day together being lazy, making cookies and watching movies. I knew the storm was coming and made sure on Tuesday that we had everything we would possibly need. So, aside from all the hard work my husband endured snow blowing the driveway, we had a pretty nice, relaxing day.
Appreciating my time, I realized again the conditions so many were working in – with no control of their lack of options. Plows were down and stuck. Squads could barely make it through a single street. And people were still needing to be rescued by emergency vehicles. They could not control the job cuts which left them less staffed. They could not control equipment failure. They could not control the insane winds and over 23 inches of falling snow. But they worked with what they had to work with and to this moment are still getting the job done.
I then had the idea to show appreciation to these workers. I set up a Facebook Event Page explaining that I was collecting donations to send to these departments goodies from O&H Bakery. And I have been virtually begging for money since. I spoke with Mary at O&H and she so generously offered free delivery AND 10% off Kringles to send to local police, fire and plow workers. After a couple phone calls, I learned that we would need enough Kringle for 240 employees. I am determined to make this work even if I have to pay for the bulk of it, even though we basically live paycheck to paycheck right now.
While I am happy to show my gratitude and admiration, I am also quite disappointed that a.) I have only received 4 donations thus far and b.) all I am reading is complaints and criticism of these very workers whom, to extremes, put their safety on the line for many, many long cold hours. Yesterday and this morning I have read countless comments containing nothing but bitching. I understand that it can be frustrating to be stuck with little control over the situation. But with only a handful of plows, these people expected to have clear roads mere hours after one of the largest storms in Racine’s history. I understand we are a narcissistic, self involved culture. I am also guilty of these qualities from time to time. But the abundance of selfishness is really overwhelming. What I hear in my head is, “Wah, wah…what about me!! Me first, me first!! Me me me!!!”
I do also realize that most people did not listen to the scanner all night, hearing these people work their frozen asses off. But it seems to me it is only common sense – not to mention all the news stories. Maybe you have to take a vacation day or two. But you are safe, warm and sheltered. You likely have your food, cable, internet, family, fireplaces and time to just BE. Is there really THAT much to complain about? Imagine going to work and finding that your tools which are essential to your job are broken. Then imagine high pressure to complete a job which can be a matter of life or death. And THEN imagine half the population complaining because you are not doing your job up to their approval. If a cashier’s register breaks down, I do not blame him. If the lights go out at Applebees, I do not blame the server. If my Ob/Gyn is late to my appointment because he is delivering a baby, I do not get angry with the doctor. Think about YOUR job on the very worst possible day. Think about how you would still try to do the very best job you can, staying late and working hard. Think about how YOU would want to be treated.
On Friday, The Racine Police and Fire Department, The Mt. Pleasant Police and Fire Department and The Department of Public Works will be receiving O&H Kringles as a small token of appreciation from me and a handful of other citizens. I will publicly (online) be posting a list of contributers and amounts. I will also be posting a copy of the O&H receipt. I am taking donations by paypal – firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail if I know the contributor personally.
I would love your help and support so we are sure to be able to send enough for everyone. But more than anything, I just want our community to take a step back and look at the whole picture, think of more than just themselves and appreciate that things actually went quite smoothly for the average citizen.
I would also like to share with you a couple supportive comments I have received regarding this topic as I felt they were share-worthy:
good cause Heather…public workers are often unappreciated…for some reason, taxpayers fail to recognize and acknowledge the hard work and effort of “public servants” and only see the negatives…around here, people complain if the highway dept has overtime but at the same time, they complain if their roads aren’t plowed immediately…Racine got bombarded last night, and those workers deserve some praise for the night and day of hard work…so congrats in your effort to acknowledge them!I’m with you Heather…my hubby plows for a private company and he was out from 3:30 am on Tuesday until 1 AM last night. He said one of his accounts took him over 5 hours to clear. It took him almost a half hour just to get our driveway! T…here was just too much snow, and no where to go with it. He said he saw dozens of abandoned cars yesterday. The city plows have to keep the “arteries” clear too–that may mean forgoing side streets to keep the main ones clear. Unless a person had 4WD and a weighted trunk, they would have never made it anywhere anyways.
dear friends and family,
I would like to thank and apologize to all of my friends and family who are civil servants. for the last 30 hours or so you have been combing the city streets saving someone’s loved ones. I was stuck at home, happily with my family…my whole family…18 year old, toddlers and husband. I have not seen my teenager work so hard at shoveling ever, and I haven’t spent that much time with my husband in months. so instead of whining cuz I couldn’t get out of my drive way I thank you for taking care of the rest of us!! god bless you! ..and this is good wine!
There isn’t just negativity being published, thankfully. THIS blurb reported by WTMJ has a positive note.
Some info gathered from this article on The Racine Journal Times
- Blast of Ice Adds to Storm’s Bite (online.wsj.com)
- Snowmaggedon – Chicago’s 2011 Blizzard (chicagonow.com)
- Oh Snow You Didn’t!! Chicago’s Blizzard of 2011 Pics (chicagonow.com)
- Blizzard strands hundreds of motorists in Midwest (reuters.com)