LOCAL VOICES: Let’s Just Blame the Weather and Move On

St. Charles County Missouri Scanner Traffic

Last night was . . . well, it was something. And it appears tonight’s forecast is just as bad.

I’m gonna take a break from the normal posts [on the St. Charles County Missouri Scanner Traffic Facebook Page] for a minute to chime in this afternoon and offer my two cents if you wanna know. If you don’t, now’s your chance to scroll right past this post without being offended. If you choose to read on, don’t say I didn’t warn ya’.

I’m just one of the several admins of this page, and my opinions are not necessarily shared by all of us on the team. But that’s part of what makes our country great, that we can have differing opinions and still work together respective of each other.

When something terrible happens or simply just goes wrong, we tend to seek out someone to assign blame. We ask questions like “How did this happen?” And “Who’s responsibility was this?” We make statements assigning blame without knowing all the facts. “It’s ________’s fault” (fill in the blank).

Those are great questions to ask, and certainly getting to the bottom of it all to determine what human factors contributed to the worsening of the situation is important. It’s important to know where the system doesn’t work. A good friend once told me “we don’t know what we don’t know until we know we don’t know it.” Learning from situations like what occurred last night is important, and that learning process starts with asking questions.

I don’t know all the facts, but I can certainly concede that maybe MoDOT made an error yesterday – but I don’t know that for sure. I’m sure they’ll be in the office reviewing the entire day to learn from it. Maybe the weathermen missed something in the forecast. I’m not a weatherman, nor do I pretend to know all the combinations of science and guesswork that go into forecasting that which God controls. I don’t believe for a second anyone in either of those professions intentionally set out to deliberately add to last night’s chaos by not doing their job right.

Are there takeaway opportunities for them? Absolutely. Should we hang them from the highest tree in the center of town and tear them from limb to limb?

Nah, probably not.

Where, I believe, we fall short in our pursuit to assign blame is in looking in the mirror. Listen folks, it’s 2016 in the Midwest. News flash – it gets cold in December in Missouri. Like, freezing cold. When water falls from the sky over Missouri in December, you can expect it will freeze in some form or another. You can almost bank on it. Sometimes it pops up without warning. Hate to be the bearer of that news. It’s just not always predictable to 100 percent accuracy in a man-made forecasting model.

Every single one of us reading this has access to some of the most up-to-date informational technology mankind has to offer. We’re living in an app-driven world. Smart phones abound, and the free weather and road condition apps available for those phones are not in short supply. Listen friends, all I’m really saying is this. Pay attention to the weather. Know before you go. Have a plan. Be prepared for it should it come on unexpectedly. Discuss your emergency travel plan with your family members so they know what to do, and how to work the contingency plan when the need arises. We do fire drills in school regularly for a reason – so everyone knows what to do and where to go without having to be told as the emergency is happening.

What does an emergency travel plan look like? I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few thoughts to consider:

  • Throw a small bag in the trunk of your vehicle: blanket(s), a couple water bottles, some light snacks, flashlight & batteries, spare cell phone charger.
  • Keep the fuel tank above half at all times.
  • Keep your cell phone charged.
  • Know the areas you drive through regularly. Is there an exit along your route you don’t normally take that has businesses you can wait it out for awhile? Are there alternate routes that don’t involve high traffic areas? Maybe that means going out of your way to avoid interstates and highways. Many municipalities had clearer roads than the highways last night.
  • You can do a simple web search with keywords like “how to prepare an emergency travel plan” and get hundreds of additional tips that are simple to implement.

At the end of the day, we have to be ready to save ourselves first. Emergency services last night were strapped well beyond normal. They did a phenomenal job responding to hundreds of calls for assistance. Kids stranded on buses, pregnant mommas nearing birth along the roadside, and on and on. Good Samaritan citizens stepped up and brought food to stranded cars, used their own resources to free stranded motorists, and just did what good people do. They helped others in need.

Those are the stories I choose to focus on. Yes, learn from the past mistakes, but be accountable for our own choices at the same time. How can we each individually be better prepared for the next time we find ourselves stranded in traffic for hours? Are there steps we can each take to improve our situation the next time?

Y’all are some awesome fans, and we appreciate your support of the page. We enjoy bringing you important incident information and public service announcements that make for a safer, better prepared community. We love doing what we do. I’m sure I’ve offended at least some of y’all, but that’s not my intent. I’m just hoping to get us all to see we can ALL do a better job of preparing for emergencies. We don’t always have to be reliant on someone else to save the day for us. Yes, sometimes we do – but sometimes we don’t.

Y’all have a blessed weekend. I just read the post from the City of O’Fallon advising conditions throughout today and tonight could be equal to or worse than last night. If you don’t have to be out, enjoy the time inside with those you love. If you do have to get out, leave early with time to spare, and slow down. Have a plan. Pack the car with the supplies you’ll need if you’re stranded.

Don’t expect that help can get to you as quickly as it normally would.