An old man tells a story of when he was a boy somewhere “up there” — you know, Yankeeland. Winter had hit with a vengeance and snow fell and fell and fell.
That was nothing new to the boy, though, because living there means living with snow. One morning, a particularly nasty storm ripped through the city. He rose as he always did, got dressed and headed off to school.
He “trudged” his way through the snow drifts because his school never closed because of weather. Ever. As the boy walked in the snow, he got to the locked doors. For the first time in his memory, school closed.
Of course, that line of thinking is at the far extreme of the action meter when it comes to weather. But if there is one extreme, there has to be another extreme, which was on display in Jones County on Tuesday.
A tropical storm that had the potential to be a Cat 1 hurricane when it arrived on the Gulf Coast — somewhere between New Orleans and Pensacola, Fla, was forecast to strike on Wednesday. Winds could reach 70 mph — certainly not perfect weather to go golfing, but not catastrophic. Common sense says that once the storm hits land, it starts to weaken and break down. So its effect on Jones County seemed to be like 30-40 mph winds and a bunch rain — at the worst.
About 12 hours before Gordon’s impact was expected in Jones County, schools began to close. Err on the side of caution, they will say. We agree. But the closures seem to come earlier and earlier every time a weather event is forecast. In the olden days, school officials would get up super early in the morning, talk to emergency and police personnel out in the elements, assess the risks and danger and then make a determination. Had one superintendent gotten up at 3 on Wednesday morning to assess the situation, schools would be open.
But we will give the school districts a mulligan on this one, out of caution, but it might be time to start re-evaluating the criteria used for closing schools.
What we cannot understand is city and county governments not in operation on Wednesday. Are you serious? This week, city and county leaders will unveil all the money that they will confiscate and spend on our behalf. But no, city and county government workers were given a day off instead.
Set up the info line or get the answering machine connected at City Hall. All city employees are asked to call the number before 7 a.m. and the message will say whether one needs to come to work. Heck, how many city and county workers woke up Wednesday morning, drinking coffee watching The Price is Right, while being paid with our money?
Again, be on alert. Prepare. But enough of these quick, knee-jerk decisions to close necessary services and deny so many young minds the educational enrichment they deserve.