Do you see that …that stuff… on the ground? Sure, it’s January, it’s cold, it’s not much, but folks, this is Arkansas and it’s not supposed to snow here. I know I said that change is in the air, but…
That little bit of snow was slickery and slippery. Since snow is such a rare thing, there are no snow plows or sand trucks, and salt isn’t thrown onto the roads at the first flake falling from the sky. That little bit of snow pretty much shut everything down on Monday and gave kids an extended winter break from school. Even government offices opened two hours late, so much was shut down.
By Tuesday, the snow was gone. But, patches of ice remained where the sun didn’t shine, and with this arctic air, those ice patches are still on the roads in unsuspecting places. It’s the unusual cold, frigid temperatures that has proven to be the most difficult to handle. Things around here just aren’t built to ward off this kind of cold. It’s more important to have good air conditioning than it is a furnace.
Yesterday, I woke up to frozen water pipes. I was forced to crank up the furnace – and my electric bill – to get the water running before the pipes decided to burst. The attention paid off and no pipes blew. A friend wasn’t so lucky. She had water and septic lines explode. While I took the day off to attend to my pipes, she was called home from work by a panicked daughter watching the water gush across her kitchen floor. Our boss wasn’t happy with either one of us.
While frozen and bursting water pipes may seem trivial, at least we have them. There’s a lot more people out there without a home, without shelter from this ungodly weather. I heard that two of the cities here opened up “warm up” shelters in school gyms for homeless people to come out of the cold for a little while. They were filled and over capacity in no time and had to turn people away. The winter utility program ended at the end of December and a countless number of people are wondering what they’ll do when their electric is shut off. And, more and more people are losing their homes to foreclosure or getting evicted from rentals because they are unemployed or working drastically reduced hours if they still have a job.
If it was just the unusual weather, we’d all be able to handle it. But, add in the frigid economics and it’s a disaster beyond measure. Some may deal with their circumstances in numbness and others deal with it in anger. My day-to-day life keeps those struggling out of view, but I know they are there. I think most of us know it too, and it’s something we’d rather not think about. That line, that “bottom,” is just too close to acknowledge openly. Every day, the headlines announce yet another person that has broken under the strain and committed a heinous act of violence. Just how far are any of us from the end of our rope?
A week of winter is more than enough to handle. For the countless people out there struggling with far more than snow days, frozen pipes and ice patches on the roads, I hope this arctic blast ends and ends soon.