OPINION – Simulations are powerful tools for building leaders. Moot courts and mock congresses were an essential part of the education of the generations of the Founding Fathers.
Likewise, when football teams scrimmage, or first responders hold a mock disaster drill, there is a very good reason for doing so. They are simulating real-world conditions in an environment where the participants may learn from mistakes without placing people in harm’s way.
The late spring storm that blasted parts of Iron, Beaver, Garfield, and Washington counties, was a perfect opportunity for preppers to test their skills without laying it all on the line.
My family had spent all day Saturday in St. George for my niece’s wedding. We watched with interest as evening came and the dark, foreboding clouds began to accumulate to the north and west.
As my daughter and I drove home toward Cedar City, Pine Valley Mountain was being continuously strobed by lightning and the wind was beginning to pick up noticeably. By the time we started up the Black Ridge – a stretch of Interstate 15 between St. George and Cedar City – the wind was buffeting our car violently and we had more than a few collisions with kamikaze tumbleweeds.
As we approached New Harmony, the gusts intensified and we could see power lines arcing in the distance. After nearly a dozen blinding arcs, every light within sight went dark.
At this point, I was texting my wife and other family members who would be making the trip shortly to expect severe weather conditions and to be cautious. Shortly after arriving home, rain began to fall in sheets.
When my other family members got to the top of the Black Ridge, heavy blowing snow made it nearly impossible to see the road markings. They had to drive at a white-knuckled 25 mph the entire way to Cedar City. The roads weren’t slippery yet, but the snow was intensely hypnotizing and visibility was extremely limited.
The heavy snowflakes fell until the morning. Surprisingly little snow stuck to the roads, but serious damage was done to trees and power lines. The weight of the snow was too much for many trees and, all over town, branches bowed down until they broke.
A majority of Facebook posts on Sunday morning showed examples of wind damage all across Southern Utah. Church services were abbreviated in some areas to allow people to deal with broken tree limbs and other damage. By Sunday morning, there were still thousands of people without power.
As unwelcome as this storm may have been, there is a clear silver lining for those who are paying attention. It was an excellent opportunity to test family emergency-preparedness in a semicontrolled environment.
Many families whose power remained out for much of the day were forced to find alternative ways to light and heat their homes and prepare their meals. Those who had lanterns or candles at the ready and a woodstove or kerosene heater on hand were far less inconvenienced than those who did not.
Families with alternative means of cooking were still able to enjoy a nice Mother’s Day meal with loved ones. With television and the Internet being off the table due to the power outage, it’s likely that some folks rediscovered the value of conversation or reading good books.
Those who had chainsaws and trucks and trailers were handed an excellent opportunity to hone their skills in removing tree limbs and hauling them away. The element of service was very evident in many neighborhoods across Southern Utah because of the storm damage.
It was an excellent opportunity to revisit safety rules with all family members regarding what to do around hanging tree limbs or downed power lines. Likewise, the power outage provided solid teaching opportunities for young and old alike regarding dressing to stay warm.
The upside of having to do for ourselves is that it breaks the I-am-a-victim mentality that characterizes much of American society today.
Our training to be frightened little followers starts at an early age. Situations where we must show some independence and resourcefulness allow us to prove to ourselves that we really aren’t helpless.
They also allow us to find gaps in our preparedness and to address those deficiencies promptly. This was a great simulation for unexpected disasters we may face.
Preparedness brings genuine independence so we don’t find ourselves pleading with strangers or self-important bureaucrats for basic necessities like food, water and shelter.
It also gives us the authority to say “no, thank you” when it really counts.
- Power outages, road impacts carry over from weekend weather
- Winter Storm Warning; what to do if you’re stuck in snow, safety kit list
- Perspectives: Sowing the seeds of rebellion
- ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine’
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014, all rights reserved.
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