Last week’s storm, which featured high wind, whiteouts and bitterly cold temperatures, is a perfect opportunity to highlight some people who go out into the teeth of the storm to help the rest of us get through these severe weather events.
The storm, which began Tuesday and delivered its hardest blows Wednesday, caused power outages, vehicles to be involved in accidents and to slide into ditches. This was the first big winter storm of the season, which always makes things a bit more challenging as motorists try to remember how to drive during winter weather.
Who are some of these unsung heroes that, in some cases, risk life and limb to lend a helping hand? On Wednesday, tow truck drivers were out because of traffic accidents and cars in ditches.
Driving in white-out conditions is bad enough, think of being on the edge of the highway, hooking a car to a tow truck or getting a vehicle on a car carrier as motorists drive by, barely able to see the road. While most people seemed to be using common sense while driving in rural areas Wednesday, it was still a dangerous situation. Police helped by briefly closing some highways, such as U.S. 34 between Galesburg and Wataga, to allow towing companies to catch up getting vehicles out of ditches without worrying about another one spinning into them where they were working.
AmerenIP, AmerenCILCO and other area utilities have employees who probably are not dreaming so much of a white Christmas. Or, if they are, more one of the gently falling flakes rather than blizzard-like conditions of last week. Employees from the utilities had power restored to most affected areas by 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Again, working in 50 mph winds, sometimes being up on utility poles, is a service that helps us all. Yes, these people are paid to do their jobs, but this work requires well-trained employees who know how to do their jobs without getting injured.
Snow plow drivers also have to deal with all manner of hazards. Conditions were bad enough overnight Wednesday that Knox County did not send its crews out. City and county snow plow drivers did more salting than plowing during this storm, but the slick conditions are a danger as they drive, as well as the concern that a motorist may not see them in time or may hit a patch of ice and plow into one of the trucks.
Yes, we have winter storms every year in Illinois — which is why I dream of spending these months in warmer climes — but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for the people who have to go out into dangerous weather. Some news outlets seem more intent on scaring people to death, saving them the hazards of the storm, I suppose. My intention is not to label this Stormaggedon, as one person did in a very cleverly written e-mail I received Wednesday, but just to point out we all need to be careful out there.
There are many others I could name that have to deal with these conditions; there’s no way I can list all of them. The bottom line — I like to use humor in my columns, but storms such as we had last week — while much worse in Iowa and north of here — are no laughing matter. Thanks to all the men and women who were out there helping the rest of us. When you have to drive in those conditions, watch out for your friends and neighbors who may be the ones out there trying to make your life a little easier.
And, use common sense. If you have a commute to Peoria or the Quad Cities and conditions are such that you’re putting yourself at risk, let your employer know and stay home. Christmas is coming and so is more winter weather. Be safe this holiday season and all winter; if you get a chance to say “thanks” to someone who has to work outside in our “wonderful” Illinois storms, take the time to do so.
John Pulliam is business editor of The Register-Mail. Contact him at email@example.com or 343-7181, Ext. 215.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Another Positive Winter Towing Story - From IL
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 8:49 AM