About 20 years ago, a really big snowstorm hit the area. I don’t remember the exact date. And it was not one snowstorm but two. The first dropped 24 inches in the New York metropolitan area, and then, a week later, a second storm dropped a further 24 inches. I have never forgotten it.
“This is a terrific amount of snow,” the weatherman said on TV as the second snowfall fell. “Stay off the streets, let them do their jobs. This would be a good time to take the kids sleigh riding, but not now, when it’s over.”
I was thinking about this around 11 a.m. this past Saturday morning, as this recent blizzard hit.
On TV, a female news anchor sat behind a desk looking out at us. Behind her, a map showing a red-and-purple blotch moved jerkily across the East Coast, chugging along for five seconds and then doing it again and doing it again and doing it again.
“People are stranded in their cars on a superhighway in eastern Kentucky,” she was saying. “No drink, no food, nothing. Many of them have been there all night. The Governor of New York State, the Governor of Pennsylvania and the Mayor of Baltimore are expected to be speaking together shortly, so we wait for that. Meanwhile, eight people have died. This storm is deadly.”
It boggles the mind to imagine eight people dying. But that’s what I heard her say.
“And then there is going to be the flooding,” she said.
The map behind her changed to a map of the Eastern Seaboard with an orange coastline in New Jersey and a yellow coastline above it and below it.
“We are expecting moderate to major flooding in New Jersey,” she said, “moderate to MAJOR. And then, here in the New York area, minor to moderate flooding. There was a full moon last night. High tide is at 7 p.m. tonight and 7 p.m. tomorrow night.”
The map now changed to cars flooded up to their fenders on a residential street somewhere.
“We go now to Matawan, New Jersey, where our reporter is standing by. He’s been sending us some great video of conditions there.”
Didn’t she say the flooding would be tonight? Now we see a man holding a microphone on the center island of a residential street, wearing a winter parka with a fur hood pulled up to protect him from the snowflakes.
Harry says nothing. He touches his ear where an earpiece must be under the fur, and he turns completely around to face away from the camera.
“I can’t hear anything,” he says.
And now we’re back to the lady.
“Well, you can imagine in these conditions,” she says, “there might be technical problems. Well, we have some footage here to show you, I’m told.”
Instead, we go back to the man standing on the center island.
“The predictions about this storm keep changing,” he says, “and none of it is for the better. First we were told it would be 10 to 12 inches, then 12 to 15 inches. And now we learn up to 24 inches might blanket the New York area. Meanwhile, 13 states have declared a state of emergency.”
That’s the same 24 inches we had 20 years ago. Twice in seven days. I got up from my chair and turned the thing off.
Everybody’s terrified. America’s terrified. I’m terrified. It reminded me of the time years ago when everybody was building a bomb shelter in their backyards and the kids at school were taught “duck and cover,” which meant when the siren sounded, you ducked under your desk and covered your head until the all-clear sounded.
Back then we were afraid of a hydrogen bomb blowing up New York. Today we are afraid of, well, a dumb-ass 24-inch snow fall.
Kids, get your sleds out. Let’s get out there and have some fun. And tell your parents to vote for Trump. With him in, all these problems will be solved.