Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires — what’s next? Probably, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and landslides to name a few. What about us in Central New York?
Ashamedly, I admit to gloating when disasters hit other areas in the U.S.; not at their suffering, but due to all the grief we receive about our weather, particularly, our cold and snow.
When other locations are hit, it’s difficult to refrain from a bit of, “Look who’s sorry now.” Our area is relatively free of devastating forces of nature, but we have to admit it is only “relatively.” Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and landslides are all included in our local weather history, causing much property damage, and loss of life.
Our principal threats — blizzards, ice, floods and high winds are costly enough, but result in few losses of life.
My experience living in Western and Central New York has been punctuated by two major blackouts in 1964 and 2003: one major wind storm, the Labor Day storm, i.e. derecho (1998) and several relatively small tornadoes, including Hurricane Agnes (1972) and Beryl (1994), which caused devastating flooding.
Of course the snow storms are legion, most of them “nothing CNY can’t handle,” but two of them got the better of the best: The Blizzard of 1966, which cut off the power and shut down the city for almost three days; and the Great Blizzard of 1993, of even greater magnitude, created major chaos as people abandoned their cars along major highways and roads.
In all these emergencies, heroic efforts on the part of not only emergency services, but also the general public, kept the casualty numbers low. It’s recommended that we have three days of food, water and medical supplies available for our family and pets. Everything that depends on electrical power will be inoperable, for instance furnaces and some hot water heaters, unless you have a generator.
Some comments about generators — generators can be dangerous unless installed and operated according to specifications. After a three-day power outage, my brother invested in a generator and never had a need to use it. There must have been some magic in it.
Again, during the week-long power outage of the Great Labor Day Storm of 1998, my neighbors and I had no heat, lights or refrigeration for five days; that is, except for one neighbor.
They had a generator, but, evidently, didn’t want anyone to know, so they ran it only in the dark of night. They must have been afraid they would have neighbors lining up outside their door, begging for hot coffee or to take a hot shower.
I laid in bed at night, hearing the incredibly loud sound of the motor, like a huge pump or something — it was just one more annoyance. Then, once I realized what they were up to, I became insulted and angry.
All I can say is, emergencies bring out the best in some people, and the worst in others. Your outcome may depend on your own foresight, and only as a last resort should you count on your neighbors.
Reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican.