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State of emergency lessons from Gazette student columnist

Student Life

By Emma Troake

Winter break came sooner than we thought with the approximately 90 centimetres of snow that overtook much of the Avalon Peninsula Jan. 17, giving us time off of school and work.

The record-breaking storm was a challenge itself, but so was the digging out afterwards. Throughout the lengthy ordeal, there are many lessons I took away from “Snowmageddon2020.” 

Prepare, prepare, prepare

First, I think we were all reminded just how powerful weather can be and how much of an impact it can make in a night. Eleven days after the storm and we’re still cleaning up. The incredible amount of snow quickly wowed us all when we saw it swallow our cars and envelope our homes. 

If there’s one main lesson to take away from Snowmageddon, it’s that you can never be too prepared. The grocery stores were packed on Tuesday when they opened for the first time, most customers scrambling for more milk. I went to Coleman’s with my family where they had a limit of two cartons per person.

Other than stocking up on groceries, having enough trusty flashlights and batteries around and charging your electronics are good preparations to make. Portable chargers are a good investment for when the power goes out. 

Work together

Another takeaway from the storm is listening to restrictions set by the city. Too many people disregarded the driving ban and were unnecessarily out on the streets in their cars or snowmobiles. While some people had valid reasons, some people were out for fun.

Not taking the restrictions seriously creates danger that could have been avoided. On one road, cars were blocking an emergency vehicle and struggling to back out of the one-lane street. 

The scene on Emma Troake’s street after the Jan. 17 storm.
Photo: Submitted

With the power and wi-fi out in my home, my family had to find entertainment someplace other than on our phones. This involved breaking out the old, dusty board games and packs of cards. Once the storm died down, we took to the backyard and resorted to childhood joys such as snow fort building.

There was even enough snow to make small sledding hills. It’s always nice to take a break from technology and reconnect with your family, and there’s no better opportunity than when the power goes out. 

“In circumstances like these, it’s important to stay positive and patient.”

The state of emergency resulted in the city’s residents being confined to their homes, not permitted to drive during the cleanup or to even walk out the door from the sheer amount of snow against it. In circumstances like these, it’s important to stay positive and patient.

While power outages and being stuck in your house are an inconvenience and irritating, it should be recognized that others are in worse conditions and are less fortunate. It made me smile seeing so many people make the most of their situation by taking to the snow for fun. 

Generosity and kindness

The extraordinary storm brought many difficulties, such as blocked roads, power outages and more. However, the residents didn’t back down. While a storm like this might have caused panic and hostility in some places, it brought forward a lot of generosity and kindness.

“In the face of adversity, we don’t give in, we rise up.”

I’ve seen countless good stories on local social media over the past week, from neighbours shovelling out houses buried in snow to people sharing and delivering food, medication and supplies to people in need.

As well, the army contributed amazing work, shovelling out homes throughout St. John’s. 

This storm has been a test of strength, character and will. However, I believe it has once again proved that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can make it through anything.

In the face of adversity, we don’t give in, we rise up. We make sure no one is left in need. We find the fun in the situation.

If there’s one final lesson to take away, it’s that Snowmageddon 2020 is undoubtedly a storm for the books. 

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