Winter Storm Pax packed the punch that was promised. Limbs cracked. Trees fell. Downed power lines sizzled on the sidewalks. The silver lining is that it was a winter wonderland. But, that beautiful winter visual display with its ice-covered tree limbs had a dark underside that not only paralyzed the Atlanta metro, but sent too many of us into homes darkened from the storm. It is one thing to have cold, ice and snow visit us, but the problems are compounded by power outages. Sure, a power outage in the dead of a true “Hotlanta Summer” is rather annoying, but an outage in below-freezing weather is challenging by just trying to stay warm. Indeed power outages are nothing new to us in these parts. It does not take much to bring the grid down so Pax’s power outages were not much of a surprise. With an incredible amount of weakened trees near power lines, there was no telling when those quiet pines and oaks would go down.
What was even worse with Pax is that it had several phases. Just when one thought it was OK, another round of freezing rain poured down upon us. To top off that one-two-punch, we received additional snow over the already-thick ice in the late stages.
In retrospect, was Pax “catastrophic” as the term was bandied about as the storm took aim on Metro Atlanta? For some, it was catastrophic as trees pierced homes and thousands were left in the dark for way too long. We heard sad stories of one person who burned furniture to keep warm and others like a way-too-hard-working Walmart truck driver who jack-knifed off an interstate. But, was Winter Storm Pax generally “catastrophic?” That was a term that would probably better suit to the strong remnants of a hurricane or a massive tornado outbreak. An ice storm – or at least this past ice storm – was probably filled with more terrifying, inconvenient and mostly annoying times.
Of course, there could never be enough thanks for salt truck operators, power company workers, first responders and dedicated reserve folks who went way beyond the call of duty. Their much-needed work was a tremendous help as usual. A lot of their success was not only due to their professionalism and hard work, but also because more of us stayed off of the roads.
During times like these it’s a bit of a respite for life’s hassles mixed with an unsettling feeling having our lives upended. OK, that sounds a bit dramatic to some. Certainly, even if the lights are out, sit by the fireplace or go play a board game or read a book — many would argue.
So as we begin to clear out, clean up and in many cases, contact homeowners insurance, remember that things could have been worse and perhaps one day – whether it’s this winter or a future winter — we could experience far worse. Hopefully Winter Storm Pax along with its predecessor Winter Storm Leon has made us a more-prepared metro area.