WEST MUNDEN, SOUTH NORFOLK, CHESAPEAKE, Va. – On January 2, 2018, Winter Storm warnings began popping up on weather apps and TV screens for several cities and counties in Virginia and North Carolina.
Temperatures plummeted below freezing. Water from the faucets had to run for a while before I could find the hot water.
The moment I stepped my foot outside to take out the trash, cold air nipped at my face and fingers. Indoor heating could barely keep up with Jack Frost’s folly.
By nightfall of January 3, snow fell from the sky, blanketing the entire city. The soft, white fluffy flakes were beautiful to see. Temperatures continued to fall breaking record lows.
As the night went on, the snowfall increased and started to pile up, making it difficult to tell where my driveway ended and the street began. My lawn looked like a large flat cake topped with buttercream frosting.
It continued to snow well into the next day, eventually tapering off enough to see each individual snowflake as it floated down to the snow-covered ground.
There was not a creature in sight. The birds that usually inhabit the trees in my front yard were long gone. The squirrels that usually chase each other across my back lawn had vanished. My neighbors were nestled in their homes, trying to keep warm as I was.
A man in a dark blue van dared to venture out into the storm, but the snow claimed his van. It got stuck in the snow on my street. He tried everything he could, but it wouldn’t budge. With nothing left to do, He left his van in the street, where it stayed for the next three days.
A zero-degree windchill emerged onto the wintry scenery. It howled like a wounded animal. As it made its way through the city, it blew around the decreasing snowflakes and picked up the fallen snow, tossing it into the air.
The snowflakes were no match for the windchill as it crumbled each one into white dust that swept through the entire city. Visibility was obliterated. The pink sky and Mother Nature’s tossed snow salad were the only things I could see.
Eventually, the blizzard passed leaving behind freezing temperatures, a winter wonderland nearly a foot deep and a much necessary cleanup.
City of Chesapeake’s Response To The Blizzard
This is Virginia. The South. No one expected a blizzard. Not even the city of Chesapeake. I checked the city’s website throughout the storm for updates and closings.
Mayor Alan Krasnoff declared a “State of Emergency” on January 3 along with three other cities — Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Chesapeake closed all offices, schools, courts, libraries, community centers and other facilities.
My neighborhood just started back getting mail today.
Trash and recycling collection changed three times. The first time was Saturday, January 6, Then, Monday, January 8, and now Tuesday, January 9. Now, the Chesapeake Public Works Department has repeatedly cancelled our trash and recycling days, they don’t even have the common decency to give us a makeup day. According to the City of Chesapeake website,
“If your trash was missed on Jan. 4 or 5, it will be collected on your regular day this week. If your recycling was missed on Jan. 4 or 5, it will be collected on your next regular day (Jan. 18 or 19).
I have a sneaky suspicion that the city already knew they weren’t going to collect everyone’s trash and recycling until the next trash day. However, they chose to lie to the public and give them three different dates for trash and recycle pickup.
I’ve honestly never heard this stupid suggestion given by a city before. But, the City of Chesapeake encourages us to throw any recyclable trash that doesn’t fit into our recycle bin into our neighbors.
I have reason to believe that drug activity is prevalent in my area, the last thing I want is to have their trash in my recycle bin.
What gives you the right to volunteer my recycle can to other people anyway, Chesapeake?
Heath E. Covey, Director of Public Communications for Chesapeake (He doesn’t even live in Chesapeake) stated on 13 News that 300 tons of salt and sand had been used on Chesapeake primary, secondary and emergency routes to ensure that first responders could get safely through.
That’s great. But…
A first responder came on my street during the storm and he had to get out and walk the rest of the way. So how exactly is just cleaning select streets really helping first responders?
Residential streets also belong to the city of Chesapeake, yet gets forgotten anytime there’s any type of snowfall.
I found a response to this question on the City of Chesapeake Public Works blog:
Seriously? Chesapeake citizens should rely on Mother Nature as a rescue plan?
“Narrow street width, parked cars and limited turning space” are the official excuses why residential streets in Chesapeake don’t get prepped or plowed. However, there are narrow streets in northern states and they manage to keep all roads plowed every year.
While emergency, primary and secondary roads are clear, residents like myself are trapped indoors. Cars can’t move out of the driveway because the snow is too heavy to move. Medications are being returned at pharmacies because people can’t get out of their driveways to get them. You can’t get to the store for food or toiletries because we are stuck indoors waiting on Mother Nature to rescue us by shining some sun on us.
In my opinion, Mother Nature is used as the scapegoat because it all comes down to money.
Heavy snow doesn’t happen that often in Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Public Works Department doesn’t plan on losing city money extending plowing and salt/sand supplies to the entire city with a good chance that snow doesn’t come. So residential streets are excluded from the prepping and plowing budget.
Chesapeake Public Works Department is more concerned about saving money than the welfare of its citizens. The city is the only one benefiting from unplowed residential areas. Residential streets belong to the city. Therefore, it should be their responsibility to remove the snow.
Thankfully, the temperatures are rising again according to 13 News Meteorologist, Tim Pandajis.
Record cold for the 2nd morning in a row but it ends today! Winds have shifted out of the southwest and that… https://t.co/pMVoHzKKGd
— Tim Pandajis ABC 13 (@13TimPandajis) January 8, 2018
Advice For Chesapeake Residents For Next Blizzard
Since the City of Chesapeake Public Works Department is too cheap to dig us out. Here’s a list of things to get to prepare for the next blizzard:
1. Snow Chains or Tire Chains – Tire Chains wrap around your tires to give your car maximum traction when driving on snowy, icy roads. These are great in case you need to get out of the house. According to AAA, “Tire chain usage is permitted in Virginia for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.”
2. Get a Snow Shovel – A good snow shovel is useful for digging you and your car out in the long run.
3. Stock Up On Everything You Need – Get flashlights, batteries, candles, candleholders, non-perishable food items, pampers, baby food, blankets, water and warm clothes.
4. Have a Grill or Camping Stove – These cooking devices are good to have for power outages because they don’t require electricity.
5. Prescription Medications & Oxygen Supplies – You can ask your doctor to prescribe an emergency supply and he or she will send it to your pharmacist. Check state laws. If you know someone that’s on oxygen, tell them to ask their oxygen supplier for extra oxygen cylinders in case of power outages.
6. Get A First Aid Kit – A first aid kit may come in handy.
7. Grab a Phone – A non-digital landline telephone can be a lifeline when you can’t charge your smartphone.
8. Use a Radio – A battery-operated radio can keep you up-to-date with the latest weather and road conditions.