Extremes



When living in South Dakota, it seemed we bounced between extremes every six months or so.

Winter brought strong winds and sometimes triple digit windchill temperatures below zero.  Yes, I wrote triple digit negative windchill.

Then in the summer, you could occasionally have triple digit temperatures above zero!

The thing about South Dakota, we lived there from 1986 to 1989, was that while it was frequently hot in the summer, it was, as they like to say, a dry heat.

Maybe that's true.  But if the temp is 115 or 120 - the level of moisture doesn't matter that much anymore and it's just too hot.  I recall the afternoon it was 115 in the shade and I nearly fainted just doing my job while interviewing a wildlife rehabilitation specialist about her job during the heat.  (She ended up providing some quick rehab to me - and I appreciated it.)

Just the winter before that, the TV station I worked for said the network wanted good pictures of the blizzard conditions and something that showed the cold.  So, I drove a little ways out of the city and took pictures of snow whipping up ripples and waves of snow along the highway.  The best thing about that, in addition to avoiding frostbite, was the little extra in my paycheck from the network news folks.

If you've been paying attention to the news about Sandy this weekend - you can see more extreme weather heading the way of our friends on the Eastern Seaboard.  While some of the out-of-breath reports on the Weather Channel seem a bit much - there is some good advice to be gleaned out of all the fury.  Be prepared - stay out of the way - and get yourself to higher ground!

Lists of things we should have ready for any and all potential disasters (from band-aids to gallon jugs of water for each member of the household), can come in handy.  Of course, if you actually have the things on the list - that's even better when the time comes.

Yet, most of us tend to believe it won't happen to us.  Or if it does, someone will kindly warn us and bring us the supplies just in time.

Guess what, this may be your warning and that's not even what I started writing about!

All of this reminds me of an old story that has always been one of my favorite emergency preparedness stories:

Heavy rains of Biblical proportions are falling in the neighborhood bordering the flood plain.  Inside his house, the only one person home - a middle age man - sits in front of the television.

'If you live in the area,' advises the serious newscaster, 'you should seek higher ground.'

The man eats a ring-ding and opens yet another Mt Dew.

The doorbell rings.

"Sir, I'm with the County Sheriff, and I'm here to advise you to evacuate right now - the water is getting higher and it's not safe to stay here any longer."

"Thank you!" The man responds, "The Lord will provide."   He closes the door and grabs another ring-ding.

The water rises - a police boat passes by the open first floor window - "Sir!" comes the voice over the loudspeaker, "it is time to leave.  Now!"

With a wave the man leans back, "That's fine, thank you - I'm in good hands."

About a half-hour later the man has headed up stairs since the easy chair was getting too damp for his tastes.

A helicopter passes overhead.  The man heads out to the balcony and looks up.  "Hey you!  Grab the life ring and we'll pull you up!!"   "Thank you, no.  I know the Lord will provide."

An undetermined length of time later, the man finds himself standing in front of St. Peter.

"Excuse me, sir," says the man, "I don't think I'm supposed to be here.  Throughout the storm I just knew the Lord was going to save me from the storm - could I ask what happened?"

An exasperated Saint Peter looks up from his book and sighs:  "Well, let's see - there was the warning on the TV newscast; a personal visit, a boat, and a helicopter - how much more providing were you expecting?"