Cedar City News

Perspectives: A silver lining behind a weekend storm

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.

Tree branches buckle under the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

Tree branches buckle under the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

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.

Tree branches buckle under the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

Tree branches buckle under the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

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.

Residents took chainsaws to tree branches buckled by the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

Residents took chainsaws to tree branches buckled by the weight of spring snowfall, Cedar City, Utah, May 11, 2014 | Photo by Kevin Robison, St. George News

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.

Related posts

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.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter you email below to start!

  5 Comments
  1. Joyce A. Johnson-Mullen May 12, 2014 at 10:34 am · Reply

    Thank you. Highly valued information.

  2. Tina Forsyth May 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm · Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. I was caught driving home in the opposite direction… completely unprepared. I had been up in the Cedar City Hospital witnessing the birth of my first grandchild. When I pulled into Cedar Cedar earlier, it was blue skies as far as the eye could see. When I left hours later it was already snowing. It was quite shocking to walk out into that so unexpectedly. I SHOULD have stayed in Cedar. It was the most harrowing trip of my life. Had I gone off the road, I had NOTHING to keep me warm. I know better. Time to take better stock and make sure I’m prepared while on the road as well as at home.

  3. Robb Willie May 12, 2014 at 4:49 pm · Reply

    Hmm. Sunny, beautiful and 70 degrees, here in Anchorage, AK. hehe.

  4. Brian May 13, 2014 at 7:23 am · Reply

    Good article. I try to view every power outage and televised disaster as a wake-up call and go down a mental checklist of preparedness, seeing what I’ve overlooked. For a long time I’ve meant to get a transfer switch (to legally run the whole house off a generator, without running extension cords or endangering lineman), and after the power was out for 18 hours on Sunday I ordered one first thing Monday morning. Eliminate your “weakest link” after every “reminder” and eventually you’ll have everything you need.

  5. Rachel May 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm · Reply

    Kamikaze tumble weed… Lol!

 Add Your Comment
HTML Tags Allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>