As these words get typed (Tuesday morning), the Snowpocalypse of February 2019 has taken a moment to, reportedly, gear up for another round later today. But throughout Sunday evening and most of Monday, whiteout conditions smacked just about all of Central Oregon with a haymaker punch. The entire region was covered with anywhere from, what, a foot to 18 inches or so?
On Monday morning, when our newspaper opened up, it was business as usual ... eventually, anyhow. Our four-wheel-drive-pickup-driving office manager Joey Lantz made it in just after my Chevy four-wheel pickup did. Joey soon headed out to get Advertising Representative Jenniffer Grant. Joey was then going to get Composition Manager Becky Stever, but Becky was determined her little all-wheel drive sedan could make it in. It did, after momentarily getting stuck on a berm. Three others staffers — Managing Editor Holly Gill, Reporter Desiree Bergstrom and Ad Manager Joy DeHaan — were brought in by four-wheel drive by their husband, their father and a son-in-law, respectively, while the last one in, our Sports Editor Steele Haugen, took an hour-plus to dig out of his driveway in Redmond, then had a long, slow drive to Madras in his four-wheel drive.
Eventually, though, everyone made it through and was under the Pioneer roof, working on this edition. God and good tires willing, the Pioneer will be out as per usual this Wednesday. Since its first edition in 1904, I don't think the Pioneer has ever missed a week.
During the day Monday, I couldn't help but look out my window at the snowfall. I was struck by how many plows and tractors with snow-removal gear were moving through town. It was the same in the morning, when I was driving around taking some photos. Everywhere you look, snow removal machinery clearing parking lots and roads. Many were the private businesses providing a great service (thanks from the Pioneer to Lee Baggett's crew). They join city and county road crews who undoubtedly didn't get much sleep at all Sunday night.
A silver lining to all the cold, pain and the hassle of this latest snow event: It brings out the best in neighbors, and usually, in people in general. The guy or gal from the house down the road, there they are with the snow blowers and snow shovels, helping their neighbor dig out, or clearing a driveway, or pushing a stuck vehicle.
Our Becky, who was determined to drive her sedan to work, might still be stuck on that berm had not a couple of kind people stopped to help. (OK, we here at the office would have eventually gone to help her.)
It's also safe to assume that law enforcement and emergency personnel are having a very busy early part of the week as they respond to numerous crashes.
Late February 2019 might very well be remembered as Snowpocalypse 2019, and while people will most likely look back on this snow event with amazing reverence — or complete disdain — for Mother Nature, there is something else worth noting. In times like these, people in this community really shine.
Snowstorms famously shut down towns in the Willamette Valley. Sure the schools and state agencies closed here, but some businesses — ours included — still managed to keep the doors open. This would be difficult, if not impossible, without the help of many.
Those who drive the snow plows deserve a huge thank you, as do any businesses who committed their snow removal equipment to helping other businesses stay open. Likewise, those good neighbors who sacrificed the comfort of a heated home and a warm cup of coffee to dig out the driveways and sidewalks of fellow residents should be given our gratitude. And thanks as always to the emergency services folks who come to the rescue when Mother Nature makes things go sideways for others.
Snowstorms like these are a challenge no matter how equipped a community is to face them. Fortunately, a lot of people stepped up and helped take care of people and keep this community running as well as possible. They deserve whatever gratitude we can give them.
This column was inspired by (and the last four paragraphs plagiarized from) one written Monday for the Prineville Central Oregonian by its editor, Jason Chaney. Snow events, and other emergencies, bring out the best in all communities.
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