We got back to some limited functionality today. The streets were more-or-less plowed, the man who plows the alley removed the 6' snow berm that was just past our garage, we got mail delivery. Oh, and Patrick's car died in front of the house as I was loading Beatrix in to take her to daycare, and less than half an hour before the city town trucks started making their rounds. Luckily, he talked me into being calm and we made it through all of that (plus got lunch at Punch!), but we need a new battery and those aren't cheap (and are hard to wrap and put under the tree).

But honestly, I don't know what we, as a city/community/metro region are going to do. After two snow emergencies, the streets are still only barely passable. Traffic, even on major streets, is moving at a crawl since two cars can barely pass abreast. Under the snow, the streets are icy, and getting more so as cars spin out. Trips that usually take 15 minutes are taking upwards of an hour. Many of the snow banks are over my head. Schools in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis are closed again tomorrow. Let's not even talk about the Dome, though I can't honestly say I care all that much; the Circus Juventas tent stayed up so I'm happy. How long until we get back to "normal," and what will that look like?

I remember vaguely the last storm like this, the famed "Halloween Blizzard" of 1991. But it honestly, it didn't seem this bad. It didn't seem to cripple the area for the indeterminate future. I total the costs of the two back-to-back snow emergencies alone and the number is staggering. I'm worried that we have cut services too far, that we have spent so much time requiring our government to be "lean," that we've lost the ability to address a crisis like this. Sure, this is an enormous storm and not the everyday situation. But it's exactly that kind of situation that our government is supposed to help with, and all I see is a system that is so overextended that it can't possibly solve the situation.

So who makes up for that? We as citizens can dig each other out, can run the snowblower down the entire walk, can bring food to the snowbound neighbor, can collect money to privately plow the alley. But as we've known for a long time, we can't do the big things — we can't plow curb to curb, we can't haul off the snow and melt it our pile it up on a lake or whatever they do with it, we can't salt the icy streets and tow the abandoned cars. We've put our trust in the government to do that, but the government seems too stripped down to do so (while, at the same time, my property taxes go up another 10%).

So how do we solve the streets, the sidewalks, the ice, the snow (preferably before it, ugh, snows again late this week)? And then, how do we address the system, so this doesn't happen again?


Anonymous said…
All very good points! I do, however, remember the roads being a complete and utter mess in 1991. I know that I ended up working at home for most of the next week, because it took almost 2 hours each way to get from Frogtown to downtown Mpls, days after the snow had ended.


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