Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Winter’s roar subsided, for now

February 6, 2002

It didn't take long for the area to pull out from the storm. Shortly after Monday dawned sunny and bright, Deloris White stopped by the office to say a crocus is blooming in her front yard. Then, Jerry Botts called to say he had seen a bald eagle in a treetop near where U.S. Highway 24-40 crosses Stranger Creek. So, it appears that in our beautiful part of the country, things are getting back to normal, and then some.

But a week ago today we were in the thick of a winter storm, with about three inches of ice on the ground and more on the way. The ice storm was reportedly one of the worst the area has had in recent decades. The deluge disrupted school and work schedules, toppled a few roofs, and left area homes and businesses, at least temporarily, without power.

For the record, albeit the record of a casual but firsthand observer, ice and or freezing rain fell from the skies for about 48 hours. At first it didn't look like a serious storm a few snowflakes, maybe a patch of ice here and there. But all through the night Tuesday and into Wednesday there was a constant tapping at the windows the sound of ice striking glass. By morning, the mellow winter storm had aged into an artist's winter landscape.

Mere blades of grass suddenly and questionably blessed with the look and delicacy of fine crystal, shattered at the touch of a cat's gentle step. On the clothesline where days before sheets had ruffled in the wind, a tidy row of icicles hung.

In downtown Tonganoxie, where the American flag above the post office was sheeted in a filmy covering of ice, it was difficult to say which was more treacherous walking on the sidewalks or driving on the streets. Some who braved the elements on foot found dandelion diggers to be useful canes to steady their steps. And those who drove seemed to be exceptionally cautious. Considering how continual was the onslaught of freezing rain, there were surprisingly few accidents.

Meanwhile, children freed from the rigors of school for three days Wednesday through Friday made the most of their free time. Many of those who had sleds used them, and those who didn't, improvised. Our youngest son and his cousin, caught in town while the sleds were in the country, discovered that the top to a plastic storage box made a suitable sled. At the high school "hill," one family came equipped with a European toboggan, which is a high-sitting wooden sled that traverses bumps easily, and a tractor-tire inner tube.

Winter storms touch everything and everyone, from the birds in the trees to the elderly who wisely may be homebound during icy weather.

While some of us are, to some extent, able to take cover during a storm, there are those who can't. Emergency workers, law enforcement officers, city and highway crews and utility employees, worked around the clock last week to keep the roads safe and our homes heated. And then there are the places that never seem to close, businesses we rely on no matter what the weather the post office, hardware stores, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, nursing homes and more. Because of the dedication of so many, the winter front that took the area by storm wasn't as bad as it could have been.

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