Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Weather (catastrophe) or not.

When contemplating the imminence of climate change and peak oil you may find it useful to remember that catastrophe is a matter of perspective. My sister forwarded this notice from 'The Mining Journal', Marquette , Mi.
The text is purportedly from a county emergency manager out in the western part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after a snow storm last winter. (Snopes has declared it an urban legend.)

Up here in the Northern part of Michigan we just recovered from an Historic Event --- may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with an historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

George Bush did not come.
FEMA did nothing.
No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government.
No one even uttered an expletive on TV.
Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.
Our Mayors did not blame Bush or anyone else.
Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else either
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC did not visit - or report on this category 5 snow storm
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
No one looted.
Nobody - I mean NOBODY - demanded the government do something.
Nobody EXPECTED the government to do anything either.
No Larry King, no Bill O'Reilly, no Oprah, no Chris Mathews and no Geraldo Rivera.
No Sean Penn, no Barbara Streisand, no Hollywood types to be found.
Nope, we just melted the snow for water, sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars.
The tow truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny!
Local restaurants made food, and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snow bound families....
Families took in the stranded people - total strangers.
We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.
We put on an extra layers of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die".
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for "sittin' at home" checks.
Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
"In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world's social problems evaporate."
It does seem that way, at least to me.
I hope this gets passed on..
Maybe .... SOME people will get the message... The world does NOT owe you a living."

Ok, so Yoopers (as they are called) barely blink when their world is inundated by conditions that would cripple most communities. And, as this report illustrates, there's a bit of "Nyahh, nyahh, you pussy wusses" attitude. Can they deal as effectively with an economic crisis of "Biblical" proportions or a changing climate that delivers similar weather more often? Will they have the funds to maintain and fuel the army of snow plows? Time will tell. Still it makes you think. Are they truly more prepared and resilient?


  1. One way to approach an answer might be to ask what it was about Hurricane Katrina's outcome that prompted such spectacle, and eroded the bully pulpit of our sitting president.

    No-One leaving Yooperville on foot was turned back by uniformed troops with guns (not that Yoopers walk around in a snowstorm). That's one difference.

    I would agree persons in the North tend to understand that every year they will face a four-to-seven-month test of survival, and preparedness is handed down to generations in family lifestyles. My mother has photos from the early 1920's of snowbanks on the Tug Hill farm country in New York reaching the top of telephone poles, dwarfing the cars nearby.

    That doesn't make snow families better than other families. Folks in the Big easy know how to prepare for hurricanes, or at least, most of them. I believe efforts were made, but overwhelmed.

    I disagree that social problems evaporate just because you go further North. They evaporate as people become less alienated from community and family (however it's designed) life.

    It's really good to hear of examples of how to pull together whena community is threatened, but I bet there were some expletives uttered somewhere the longer the situation worsened. I mean, come on, these folks ARE human, aren't they?

    Martha B
    Norhtern New York
    Zone 4

  2. Well put, Martha B. (Hey, I am married to a Martha F.) And the Yoopers homes were not washed out into the Gulf. But, there may be something to northern types getting more done. Anyone who has spent more than a month in hot n humid areas must understand that. I never could understand how manual laborers got anything done in the "mid day sun" in the area of the south I lived in for a few years. I was retired, but helped a friend who was building a house. After 3 or 4 hours work, my shirt was literally wringing wet. I wouldn't go tossing snowballs at folks who have to deal with that year in and year out.

    Frank F

  3. hey, I am from Marquette County, when did that storm supposed to have happened- in the 1930's? We haven't had an event like that since I've been alive! Send me your source, please :-)

    Abby de Roche
    Ishpeming, MI

  4. That's a good question Abby. I'll recontact my sister from Skandia, Mi who sent me the original. Maybe they meant the two years ago winter...and maybe they exaggerated a bit.

  5. I talked to my sister who reports:
    "That storm was in the western UP...we didn't get it as bad here in Marquette County."
    So,it appears, in addition to the extreme "attitude" there's just a bit of exaggeration.

  6. Excellent comments Martha B and Frank F. Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

  7. I know this is old, but I had to confirm for everyone the legitimacy of this.

    Being a Yooper myself, I was intrigued by this when it was sent by my brother.

    As with many things like this, I had to look it up on Snopes.


    It is not true.

    That being said, however...As said, I am a Yooper, and this is pretty much true of many of us up there in da good ol' UP.

  8. Sky,
    Even though it's untrue, I think I'll leave it up since the comments are fascinating. Thanks for doing the research.

  9. When did this Category 5 blizzard happen??

  10. Reading more completely reveals that answer...never. This story was made up and passed along as real. It may have been based upon a particular storm somewhere but it is now merely the stuff of rural legend.