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Published:January 7th, 2010 09:53 EST
Lessons from the Storm

Lessons from the Storm

By Ed Roberts

Lessons from the Storm

 

There are many forces that drive the way we live our lives.

Some are motivated by greed

They measure success

Or failure

By the balance of their bank accounts

And the possessions they acquire

Some are motivated by fame

They will do anything

And I do mean

Anything

To see their name in a newspaper

Their face on a TV screen

Or even their name heard on the radio

 

Yes

We are all driven

And motivated

By different things

There are some motivations

However

That reach across this broad span of humanity

Motivations we all share

Two of the strongest of these

Are family

And home

 

Many would argue self-preservation

Has to be included with these two

But observing the events of these last two days

I have found a strong argument that

If it does rank in this group

In most cases

You would have to list it

As third

 

I live in Oklahoma

Some may know this

Some may not

I understand

Some don`t really care

Still, this is my home

It is known for several things

The Grapes of Wrath

Though many of us here

Wish somehow we could make that book just go away

We are known for football

We are known for the bombing on April 19th

Oklahoma City

Yes, this is my home

I was here that day

A day none of us will ever forget

A day

Everyone on Earth

Should try to remember

But there are other poems on that

And of course

Oklahoma is also known for at least one other thing

Its weather

 

This year

On Christmas Eve

We were all given a reminder

That Oklahoma can provide weather extremes

Besides the tornados that we are well known for

This year

In Oklahoma City

We had a blizzard

 

First, of course

It came with sleet and freezing rain

No, we seldom if ever just get snow

It seems there is some kind of meteorological law

Written somewhere

That we first have to have at least some kind of ice

First

Many times

That`s all we do get

Not this time though

This time

We got the snow as well

13.5 inches at the airport

In less than 24 hours

Believe me

It came in less than10

And, of course

This being Oklahoma

It also came with the wind

 

Wind is something we all are used to here

20 to 30 miles-per-hour

Is really rather typical

We have had days

Especially in March and April

Where the wind averages over 60 miles-per-hour

No, that`s not just the gusts

That`s the average wind

The gusts can be a lot stronger

This time though

The wind came with the snow

And it averaged around 45

And the gusts often reached speeds

Of over 60 miles-per-hour

 

Snow

Wind

And cold

All early Christmas presents

None of us were expecting

Believe me

None anyone asked for

Though so many did wish for a White Christmas

I really doubt

This is what they had in mind

 

I got off work at 2 o`clock

Early

As far as one might look at it

Too late though

As far as the weather was concerned

I left our parking lot at around 2:30

It didn`t take too long to realize

This wasn`t going to be an easy trip home

 

Cars followed cars

No one really able to see through the blowing snow

It took almost an hour to make it to the on-ramp of the highway

Only to find out

They had closed it earlier

And we all had to turn around

And go back the way we came

 

I made it to a main street

A designated snow route

The term however

Really meant what it said

It was truly a snow route

Covered in a blanket of ice

Quickly becoming buried

By the deluge of falling, blowing snow

It was very clear

No one was going to make it anywhere

Not in a hurry anyway

And when the beer truck slid sideways

Blocking an intersection almost 2 miles from where I was

This snow route quickly became a parking lot

There was simply no where for the cars to go

 

I was running short of gasoline

I pulled into a small convenience store

Roadies " was its name

No

I had never stopped here before

But they did have a couple of gas pumps working

And the idea of sitting in my car

As it slowly ran out of fuel

Didn`t seem a good idea at the time

 

For the next 4 and ½ hours

This small convenience store

Became my shelter

My refuge from the storm

I was not there alone

 

From inside the store

We could see the people waiting in their cars

We watched as one car

A white Chevy

Moved a total of three car lengths

In a little over 2 hours

All of us in the store had someone

Someone we would call on our cell phones

People we asked if they were safe

Letting others know

That we had a warm place to stay

A place that had a bathroom

When one finds himself stranded

Having a bathroom is truly a great blessing

It would definitely beat any alternative

And we all knew

Those who were sitting there in their cars

Were coming to that conclusion as well

 

Every now and then

Someone would come running in

Either they had someone in a car

Waiting for their return

Or somehow their car had become stuck

From sliding on the ice

Then becoming buried in the snow

 

I spoke to so many people that night

Telling them they should stay with us in the store

Some place warm

Some place safe

Only a few listened however

Earlier I spoke to you about motivations

Here it was easiest to see

So many people would return to their cars

Put their own life literally at risk

Motivated and driven by hope

Hope that somehow they would be able to make it home

Home to their loved ones

Home to the one place

So many would never be able to reach

 

One woman was speaking to her husband

Her car had become stuck by the side of the road

He was about three miles away

When he first called her

It took him nearly 3 hours to reach the store

To pick her up

The traffic was backed up both ways

I prayed for him several times

A man I had never met

A man I shared a common bond with however

We both wanted him and his wife to make it home

Safe and sound

 

One woman made it into the parking lot

She refilled her car at the pump

We tried to talk her into staying for awhile

She said she needed to get back to her family

She left and found her way back in line

About thirty minutes later she cam walking in

Out of breath

Barely able to walk

Her car had slid sideways less than a block down the street

We made a chair for her out of cases of coke

And monitored her for awhile

We were all afraid she was going to have a heart attack

A couple hours later

One of the people said he would take her by her house

He had a four-wheel-drive truck

She left with him

Hopefully she made it

I will never know

 

One man tried to drive past the cars that were lined up

He decided to cut through the strip-mall parking lot

It seemed like a good idea at the time

He found out the hard way

There was a drainage ditch between two of the small lots

You could see about 1/3 of the back of his truck

Sticking up in the air

He called a friend

Asked them to come pick him up

They couldn`t or wouldn`t

He left on foot a bit later

To walk the eight blocks home

 

I did not make it home that night

No, I didn`t spend the entire night at Roadies

I was, after about 4 and ½ hours

Able to make it back to the main street

And drive to my mother`s house

A little less than 8 miles from where I got off work

I got there at about 9:15

A little over 7 hours after I left

I did have it better than a friend at work

I learned later she and her husband

Spent the night in her car

Her car that was stuck in a snow bank

Less than a mile away from Roadies

They were able to tow her car out

At around noon on Christmas day

A wonderful Christmas present

Indeed

Still she said they did spend the time together

And it gave them time to work out some things

They had been trying to for some time

Sometimes blessings come in ways

We never expect

 

We learned so many lessons

From the single storm we had this year

People will truly do almost anything

To try and get home

No matter the conditions

No matter if it put their life at risk

Those who spent the night in the building in which I worked

There were over one hundred

Learned the value of a quarter

As the cafeteria was closed for the holidays

And the vending machines were demanding

Exact change

The company learned sometimes closing maybe an hour earlier

Can really make a difference

And they didn`t have enough cots or sleeping bags

In case this ever happens again

We also learned Christmas can be celebrated

It really doesn`t matter what day of the week

Or the date on a calendar

Christmas can be anytime a family gets tighter

All that matters

Is what we carry in our hearts

 

As for me

I also learned more about others

And through them

Watching how each dealt with this challenge

I learned a little more

About myself

 

Ed Roberts 01/04/10