Let the debate begin.
Folks all over the metro area have been lambasting local and state governments for their "poor response" to the recent snow emergency. I put "poor response" in quotation marks because I believe that was a phrase liberals invented to chastise George Bush because he let a hurricane hit New Orleans, trapping tens of thousands of people in the flood waters because they had only been given a week's notice to evacuate.
But back to Winter Storm 2011. Let us present a few facts to a candid world. I know. I know. A lot of people -- particularly those who want to blame the government for all the world's ills -- hate to be confronted with the facts. But here they are, anyway.
In 1973, a major ice storm hit Atlanta and the city was paralyzed for about a week. That storm was much worse than our recent unpleasantness because there was much more ice than snow and many thousands were without power for many days. Schools were closed for about a week. In 1977 we had a couple of snowstorms that closed schools for two or three days each, but the melting came quickly, as it usually does.
In 1982 we had Snowjam, which hit in the middle of the day and trapped a lot of Georgians in downtown hotels and even on roadways. This storm followed a less significant snow that had occurred about a week earlier. And in case you were wondering, yes, the birth rate did spike dramatically nine months later, so watch out next October.
In 1987 we had a pretty good snow that shut things down for about three days. The worst thing that happened during that storm was that the Piggly Wiggly at Honeycreek ran slap out of white bread and hamburger meat.
"The Blizzard" occurred in 1993, which hit on a Saturday morning in March and forced Nancy Fowler to cancel her visionary message from Jesus' mama. That was the first and only time I have seen "Virgin Mary sighting canceled" crawl across the bottom of a television screen, but it did that day.
There you have it. Those are the major snow events that have occurred in Atlanta over the past 38 years. Yes, there have been other times when it snowed and other ice storms. We unexpectedly got almost 8 inches of the white stuff in late March 1983, but most of it melted before suppertime. But other than the aforementioned winter storms, most of the other snow events over the past few decades have been minor and short-lived.
We average 2.5 inches of snow per year in the North Georgia Piedmont and many years get none at all. So for all you folks who think that we should be sitting on ready with sand and salt trucks and snow plows from October through April, do the math. Snow plows cost money. Repeat that a few times and let it roll around in your brain. Snow plows cost money. Lots of snow plows cost lots of money.
Remember now, the only money governments have is the money that government confiscates from its residents. We the people are already up to our eyebrows in taxes and don't even have enough money to operate the schools. How much sense would it make to spend millions and millions of dollars we don't have to buy snow plows and other equipment that we might or might not need to use once or twice over the next five to 10 years?
Very little, if you ask me. Now that is only my opinion, but mine is the only one I am free to give.
Another thing about the recent "winter event." The interstates were clogged for days by truckers who could not navigate the icy roads. We had ice, y'all. Not just snow. Every one of those truckers had been warned for days not to try to navigate the treacherous roadways. Every single one of them thought, "Surely they mean everyone but me, because I am the one person on Earth to whom the laws of physics do not apply. I am the only person on earth whose wheels do not require friction to make turns and pull hills."
Now I realize that some people -- doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers and the like -- have to go to work, and they were just in a tough spot. But I don't think their spot was created by Kasim Reed, the head of the Georgia DOT or George Bush. I also realize that some people felt they needed to get to work for financial reasons and that it is hard to get by when you lose a few days pay.
But I still do not believe that the government could have done much more than it did, given the circumstances, and I certainly do not believe we should have a knee-jerk reaction and build up a snow removal arsenal that Cleveland would envy.
I think I will file this column away somewhere. I can probably recycle it in 2020 -- when the next big snow storm occurs.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.