Chuck Williams: Chattahoochee Valley was prepared for storm

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 3, 2014 

Photo/Mike Haskey. 01/29/14

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Some people hunker down during a winter storm.

Others, by the very nature of their jobs, are forced to do the opposite.

Last Wednesday, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor cranked the county's Emergency Management four-wheel drive truck and went right into the teeth of an ice storm that crippled the Chattahoochee Valley.

People were stuck in ditches, and Taylor was pulling them out. The roads were slick and dangerous, and Taylor and others in law enforcement were begging folks to stay home, but not everyone did. For those who didn't, Taylor and others in his department would hook a strap to your car, yank you out of the ditch, pull you up an icy hill or in some cases drag you home.

Those of us in the Chattahoochee Valley had been forewarned of the coming storm. And most of us were prepared. By the time it hit Tuesday evening, most of us were tucked away in our homes with our children and our emergency supplies. You know? Bread, milk and batteries.

As a whole, we were lucky. And, for the most part, we were prepared.

"This is one of those days where you keep your fingers crossed, do the best you can do and hope that everything turns out OK," Taylor said.

True.

But, before it hit you could do much more than cross your fingers, you could prepare. You could take heed of what the professional weather folks were saying. It hit here Tuesday evening, and the warnings that a winter storm was on the way started coming early Sunday afternoon.

It was clear the 48-hour models were telling the weather folks what was coming. And Columbus was always in the heart of it. But there were also calls for wintery mix -- please read this to mean ice -- to the north of us.

Our folks took it seriously in a timely fashion, where others didn't.

Folks to the north of us -- Birmingham and Atlanta -- were stuck in a frozen hell that had kids stranded in schools, buses stuck along road ways and 45-minute commutes becoming 16-hour ordeals. This was preventable if schools and businesses had been closed all day rather than during the day as the weather rolled in north of here.

Columbus Police Lt. Tony Danford said what many of us wanted to say, but didn't.

"Ask the people in Birmingham how bad it can get. Ask the people in Atlanta how bad it can get," Danford said. "We don't have kids stuck in schools and stuck in buses on the side of a highway, because people made the right decisions."

Yes they did.

And for those who did decide to tempt the roads and the weather gods Tuesday night and Wednesday, Russell County was not a bad place to do it.

At least you had a sheriff there who was willing to pull you out of a ditch and drag you a couple of miles to the house.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

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