We have gotten a ridiculous amount of snow this year in Chicago. Even if you don’t live here, I’m sure you heard we had over 20 inches of snow earlier this month. And now, with several more inches this weekend, we passed the previous record set in 1896. That was a long time ago.
The strange thing, however, is that one of the more recent record-breaking blizzards was in 1999. I do not remember this at all. It was New Year’s Day, my senior year of high school. I can’t come up with any good reasons why I wouldn’t remember this except that maybe I just didn’t go outside since I was on winter break. I decided I better document this blizzard in case my memory tries to fail me again when the next one comes around.
So, here’s what I learned while the snow fell during blizzard 2011:
1. Growing up in Chicago spoils you.
They warned us about the blizzard for days in advance. They suggested stocking up on supplies. I figured I was good for a day. That’s enough, right? I know DC shut down for several days last year, but that’s just not how it is here. Nothing against DC (I lived there for a year and love it), it’s just that we get a lot of snow and have always figured out how to deal with it. Traffic might be slower, which definitely annoys us all, but places stay open and you eventually get where you need to go.
It wasn’t until I was reading something about what to do in the case of a power outage that I started to second guess my lack of a plan. (That frozen tilapia? Yeah…probably needs to be cooked.) However, I quickly concluded that I personally would freeze to death from lack of heat before I would ever starve to death. So, I decided to not think about it too much longer…
2. I am miserably unprepared for an emergency.
In case you didn’t guess where number 1 was leading, our power went out the day it started snowing at about 5pm. I went to get the flashlight to light some candles only to find out the batteries were dead. Oops. That’s not good. And remember the tilapia in the freezer? Yeah….not so helpful now.
As I contemplated the situation I was in, I thought it was kind of funny given my ability to be so overly prepared in other situations. You know, like being the bridesmaid with a bag full of stuff in case of a wardrobe malfunction. I should probably broaden the scope of emergencies I plan for…
3. When in doubt, panic. And then cook.
The good news is, our power came back on within an hour. Whew. However, I learned my lesson and decided to make some granola and edemame. What? Really? This is what I came up with? Yeah. Remember when I said I thought we were good for a day. Well, that was with a refrigerator and a stove. Hmm…see number 2 about planning better for emergencies. Turns out the milk in our fridge was also spoiled. Again, not helpful if we ever really did find ourselves homebound for extended periods of time.
4. Get outside!!
I spent most of the day after the snowfall inside and working from home. Actually, in my defense for all of this, I was really sick this week so even if I wasn’t working, I would have still stayed inside. From my treehouse (what I sometimes call our condo), it certainly looked like a lot of snow. I saw all the buried cars and the neighbors coming together to un-bury them. It made me smile, I like neighbors being neighbor-ly.
But it wasn’t until about 5pm that I finally went outside to check on Pete who had already been shoveling for an hour. Whoa. There really was a lot of it. For reference sake, Pete is 6’4″.
My favorite part though? The igloo the four little boys in our building had built together below our window. I really wish I would have heard them playing outside. How much fun would this have been?
5. Growing up in Chicago spoils you. (Refer back to number 1.)
I (and most of Chicagoland) had to go back to work the day after blizzard. I was walking down La Salle Street on my way home when I realized the street was shut down to allow the 3+ bulldozers to load the snow into a dump truck to haul it away to who knows where.
Honestly, it was one of the more incredible things I’ve ever seen. Annoying because a block was shut down and the buses were likely re-directed with no notice? Sure. But cleared away and under control in a pretty limited amount of time? I find that pretty impressive.
However, in case you’re worried, I’m not planning on letting number 5 talk me into not being ready for the next emergency. I still think it would be a good idea to fix that.