An arctic nightmare

For Etowah High School, most of Dec. probably felt like a brisk fall; however, for much of the rest of the United States, it was an arctic nightmare. Blizzards swept the nation, stealing both people’s power and lives, with snow piling as high as eight feet and temperatures that dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. In the midst of the terror, some have begun to question how the government has handled the whole situation. 

“In a nutshell, I think the governor and the majority in the state government were more worried last week about getting their pay raise than about the storm, which everyone had been predicting for almost a week,” State Assemblyman David DiPietro said in a New York Post article. 

On Thurs. night Dec. 22, the Buffalo blizzard started to show its first hints as rain began to fall, but it was less than 12 hours later when conditions escalated, and the city was suddenly covered in white. The death toll started to climb as more snow piled onto cars and up house walls, reaching a devastating 28 people, with more still being found. Ambulances and emergency vehicles rushed to try and help people escape from their cars; however, many emergency responders were also trapped within the snow, worrying for their own lives while working to save others. With many New Yorkers used to bad weather in the winter seasons, they did not expect how deadly this blizzard would really be. 

“On the evening of Dec. 22, Erie County issued a state of emergency beginning the next morning, along with a travel advisory. But it fell short of what many worried workers wanted: an outright travel ban so they would not have to travel to work (…) By the time the county instituted a travel ban, many people were already out on the roads and unaware of it. Others said they had no choice but to risk driving,” a New York Times article said. 

Though this was Buffalo, New York’s worst storm since 1977, the freezing temperatures were not the biggest reason for its catastrophic effects on the city; it was the government’s failure to act fast enough to prevent the high death toll. Many are angered that they did not enforce the travel ban earlier to get people off the streets and that they underestimated the weather severity rather than prepping the city just in case. Because Buffalo citizens were only given about 40 minutes to get home after the city announced the travel ban, hundreds were already on their way to work or the store to finish their Christmas shopping, not giving them enough time to get to safety. Thus, they were left stranded, and the majority of those whose lives the storm took were found dead, frozen in their car.  

“The Buffalo Blizzard reminds me of the snowstorm we had a few years ago that was far less severe, but I can only imagine the stressful situations families were put through,” Kendall Lee, junior, said. 

This is not the first time state governments have failed to prepare people for natural disasters, and this blizzard was only added to a list of grievances against the United States’ response to extreme weather. Many are furious, for their repetitive failures have cost thousands of people their lives. To prevent further unnecessarily high death tolls, many suggest the government should give earlier warning for people to get safely into their homes before a storm hits, and make sure citizens are fully aware and understand its severity, not underestimating the potential disaster.  

“The severity of climate change and its storms is not being recognized at all by the government in many suburban communities; therefore, citizens are not adequetely prepared to deal with such severe weather. If the government does not do something, more people will die,” Priscilla Dice, senior, said. 

Buffalo, New York and the rest of the country continue to mourn those who lost their lives to the devastating storm; however, they do not forget the real reason this blizzard was so disastrous.