January 31, 2014I awoke Thursday morning and turned on the morning network news. Never has the term "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" been more a propos than the morning news. Isn't it uncanny how all the networks lead with exactly the same story?
I wasn't really surprised that Atlanta led all the networks. The polar vortex has been video fodder for a month now. How many ways can you watch people walking down wind-swept concrete canyons in Chicago, Manhattan or Omaha (Omaha is really hot now, but mostly just on ESPN) interrupted intermittently by real canyons burning in Southern California?
So why wouldn't the networks latch onto a snowstorm in Atlanta? Man, that's really different.
Of course the hook is, they only had TWO inches of snow and the whole metro area was paralyzed.
It makes for a good "gotcha Atlanta," but it does not really look at the real story.
The real story is we are a network of relatively small cities surrounding a huge daytime populated work place, a.k.a. Atlanta. When everyone jumps up at 1:25 p.m. and heads for the suburbs in the middle of a snowstorm, we shouldn't be surprised it took eight hours to decide to abandon the car by the side of the road and walk home.
So why do we have to relearn how to deal with ice, snow and slush all over again when we get ice, snow and slush? Maybe it is because we only have to do that twice a decade. We could ramp up our fleet of sand trucks, stockpile 100 tons of sand and mobilize a small army of workers to spread it all over Ga. 400 when the first flake falls.
But we don't do that because we would rather spend the majority of our tax dollars on stuff we actually use.
I don't know that North Fulton could avoid gridlock in its cities if Atlanta suddenly vomited the entire commuter population onto Ga. 400 and Highway 9 on the Fourth of July.
Could we do better when it snows? Certainly. But the governor and the Legislature know the electorate has a short memory. So we don't spend the dollars to have the equipment and the manpower to spring into action when a snowstorm does come along.
Now, the metro school systems are all taking the hits for not closing the schools. I am not going to defend them. Yes, they get lambasted for closing the schools at the threat of bad weather, and then it doesn't snow. Well, it is better to be chastised for doing something than for doing nothing.
Kids on school buses on icy back roads are not a good thing. Neither is having hundreds of students stranded in schools.
The networks pointing a finger at Atlanta for not being prepared for ice and snow is like ridiculing American Samoa for not fielding an Olympic hockey team. We are never going to be good at dealing with winter.
But then, that is why so many people from Chicago, Manhattan and Omaha come here to live. You would have to look hard to find someone from Hahira, Ga., or Two Egg, Fla., retiring in the other direction.
When we talk about bad snowstorms, we say the Snow Jam 1982 or the Big Freeze of 1993. When they talk about their last bad storm, Yankees are talking about last week.
Executive Editor, Appen Media.