Safe through the storm

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anybody who didn’t have to be on the road Wednesday night or Thursday should consider themselves fortunate. With six or more inches of rain falling around the city, sitting behind the wheel of a car could be a frightening experience, even for those who were not involved in one of the city’s 35 vehicular accidents during a 29-hour span of time. Whether fighting to see through a windshield awash with water or trying to handle a car that wanted to fly out of control as it surfed across roadways awash with water, drivers were subject to levels of stress that they rarely experience.

Most folks still had to go to work, some had to go to school, and a few still ventured out to the store or to a restaurant during the day on Thursday. But there were certain segments of Suffolk’s population that never even considered staying home and watching the water fall from the dry side of a window seat. Suffolk’s emergency services workers and public works employees spent long, dangerous and tiresome hours during the past couple of days clearing up accident scenes and working on storm water drainage systems to help clear the roads of water and ensure that some accidents never even happened.

As police traveled around the city’s 430 square miles, they would find roads that had become water-covered because of clogged ditches or drains. Soon, a call would go out over city radio channels, and those monitoring the signals would hear a public works crew acknowledge the problem and tell a dispatcher they were on the way to help clear the stoppage.

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In fact, public works deserves some credit for clearing some of those ditches during the spring and summer, meaning that some low-lying roads that present perennial flooding problems never had a problem during the storms that hit Suffolk over the past couple of days. Unfortunately, because of the volume of rain and the short time in which it fell, some areas that rarely flood were covered in water, forcing crews to respond and attempt a solution.

And all the while, Suffolk’s men in blue and its emergency crews were on the streets or on call, keeping the city safe — this time from unusual weather. As always, we owe them a debt of gratitude.