(Via Ed Cone) Though its hard to fathom on this oddly balmy evening, the Great Ice Storm of Aught-Two was five years ago today. I’ve not the words to express how much it sucked. Neither do I possess total recall of how much ice fell, how long whole towns went without power or how many insipid live shots I personally thrust upon this unplugged populace. What I do remember is a dull throb, an unending ache caused by marathon shifts, unmatched frozen socks and a wife who wanted to strangle me for not being Paul Bunyan. It was not my finest hour. But then again, what would you expect from some joker from the coastal plains? Besides the hallucination that was boot camp, I’d never seen an ice storm do what it do. How was I supposed to know frozen water weighs down tree branches until they snap power lines and erase civilization as we know it? Hell, where I come from the quarter inch of snow that spawns all that mass insanity is pretty much a puddle by noon. Here in the Piedmont, that crap can stick around for days - weeks even! You’d think by age 35, I’d have been better versed on the whims of Mother Nature, but that crazy bitch nearly froze me solid sixty months ago and I ain’t forgot about it yet.
Being a proud Southerner and all, I got no business driving on ice - but since there’s a logo on my soul I didn’t have much choice. No sooner had dawn broke over the frigid moonscape that was my neighborhood did my cell phone begin to overheat. Thus began my indoctrination into the driving arts; a crash-free course in keeping all manners of two-wheel drive news vehicles betwixt the ditches. I’m not saying I could last up North, but after slinging nasties across the tri-county region without breaking any glass, I feel pretty good about my intrinsic skidability - even if I do insist on yahooing like Bo and Luke Duke anytime the back tires lose traction. Man, reporters hate that.
Speaking of reporters, they got it doubly rough during winter weather. After all, they have to appear coiffed and capable during all that team smotherage - whether they’re kicking at the icy sidewalk on cue or trotting out one of those oversized thermometers. All I gotta do is get the two of us to said remote location, find a spot where drooping power lines won’t zap us both, throw juice to the retractable mast, drag all manners of gadgets onto the tundra, plug ’em in, establish a signal, toss some light onto the subject and try not to cough up any bile when the anchors gush all over my partner for toughing it out there on the ice. I knew I should have studied harder in school!
Still, no amount of education will help when the only thing between you and home is extended live coverage from the most blizzard-stricken spot a building full of warm housecats could come up with. Worse yet, my own home was among the power-free; a condition not unnoticed by my lovely bride. When I did drop by the house that first afternoon, I found her tacking up blankets across doorways, shoving logs into the fireplace and cursing yours truly for allowing the children to freeze while I cavorted with my camera God knows where. Glancing out the window, I noted that if the kids were cold it was because frozen slush was getting in their snowsuits as they and their sleds sped downhill. Yeah, we laugh about it now, but I can assure you the passing housecat enjoyed more wifely body warmth that night than your badly shivering lenslinger.
Ya know, I think I’d prefer working a couple of hurricanes to a single ice event. And considering this, that’s saying something.