Editorials

In NC, a strong response to a big winter storm

rwillett@newsobserver.com

The winter storm that hit the Triangle left a legacy of several deaths and some 2,400 crashes, along with powerless periods for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. The storm challenged Duke Energy and emergency responders from ambulance drivers to members of the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement. School officials had some calls to make as well, including on Sunday when it was decided by some area school systems to close Monday.

About that: Before people criticize school officials for calling off school in Triangle counties as the ice and snow were melting, those critics should consider that all it takes is for a school bus to hit one dark patch of ice for a tragedy to happen. It’s true, of course, that in these days of two-working-parent homes, a school day off is a considerable inconvenience in terms of child care. But canceling school was the prudent thing to do.

Long-time residents can appreciate the comment of one N.C. State student from New Jersey, who reckoned the storm was “nothing.” The student added, “I’m glad I’m not home.”

Indeed, New Jersey was one of many places along the East Coast looking at major damage and trauma and risk and casualties from the storm. The memories of flooding in that state only a few years ago are still fresh. Now the news sites are full of pictures and film of more flooding in a state that has suffered greatly from it.

The Northeast is well-equipped to handle snow, of course, and some New Yorkers enjoyed walking to Central Park to see a postcard-type view. But New York officials, who issued a rare ban on all road travel in New York City and Long Island, said the storm ranked as a once-in-a-decade event.

In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory deserves credit for staying tuned to problems and potential problems. State safety officials did a good job, as did local ones, in coping with problems and communicating often and clearly – though N.C. State fans largely ignored the governor’s request that they not venture out for Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Duke.

The N.C. Highway Patrol along with its allied Department of Public Safety partner, the N.C.National Guard went so far as to tag abandoned cars to make sure people were not inside them. That was a great idea. And, yes, power companies of all sizes earned a bow for getting the juice flowing in a timely manner.

These scenarios will come again. If this one is an example of how the state responds, it should be a confidence-builder for folks awaiting the next snowstorm.

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