Tag Archives: snow

Snowvember Disaster Relief

Snowvember, NY, 2014One month after the initial event (give or take), President Obama has approved federal disaster relief for Northern and Western New York after the severe storm that dumped up to 70 inches of snow and caused more than $49 million in damages.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of New York to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm, snowstorm, and flooding during the period of November 17-26, 2014.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local and tribal governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm, snowstorm, and flooding  in the counties of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Orleans, St. Lawrence, and Wyoming.

Remembering James Kim

I didn’t know James Kim. In fact, I didn’t know anything about him until a few days after Thanksgiving, 2006, when he and his family, a wife and two daughters, were reported missing somewhere between Portland, OR and their home in San Francisco.

It was everywhere on the news in the Bay Area, and especially around Silicon Valley tech companies back in the days when I still worked in tech. He was local. He worked as a technology analyst. He was one of us. And he had disappeared.

All it took was one missed turn and a bad decision to continue on a secondary route. And then, when the weather continued to get worse, they made another, landing them on an unpaved logging road in a blizzard.

They stopped because they were exhausted, and because the snow prevented them from continuing forward. Four days later, on November 30th, the search began. On December 2nd, Kim set out to look for help. On December 4th, a helicopter pilot found Mrs. Kim and the girls thanks to a cell tower ping from Kim’s phone. On December 6th, they finally found Kim, dead of hypothermia, likely the same day his wife and daughters were rescued–8 years ago today.

James Kim was well educated, young (35 at his death), and healthy. His car was new and had won the highest safety awards. And yet…

At the time and after people talked about what he could have done differently. He could have waited in Seattle or Portland unit the bad weather passed. He could have turned the car around to get back on the main road. He could have stayed with the vehicle instead of venturing out into the snow. But for how long?

That year, that holiday season was when, for me, the importance of preparedness really hit home. A few weeks later, my brother and his family travelled from Seattle to San Francisco for Christmas like they do every year. And with James Kim in mind, I created car kits stocked with emergency supplies–flares and food and space blankets and more–for everyone in my immediate family.

This year, with the weather as unpredictable as it is, it may be time to give a few more. Here are some of my favorite winter prep articles to inspire your own holiday giving.


Plague, Snow, Bomb

As difficult and often scary as last night’s events in Ferguson were, they were not the only devastation that happened this past week.

  • In Madagascar, an outbreak of plague has killed more than 40 people–2% of these cases have been pneumonic plague, a significantly more contagious variant that spreads though cough.
  • Buffalo, NY was hit by a lake-effect storm that dumped 7 feet of snow and killed at least 13 people in just a few days. The city is now threatened with flooding as the snow melts.
  • In Kabul, Afghanistan more than 40 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a volleyball match. Two soldiers were also killed in a separate incident.

It’s hard to look at that list plus last night’s events and not feel like all but one could have been prevented*–by fighting institutionalized inequality and racism, by addressing healthcare quality and living conditions…by… I don’t know what to say about Afghanistan or about war in general. I have to believe that there is some alternative to sending in troops and killing soldiers and civilians alike. But what that might be, centuries worth of smarter minds than mine have failed to identify. Then again, maybe smart isn’t what’s called for in any of these circumstances. Maybe what’s called for is empathy.


* If we take a hard look at humanity’s role in climate change, we could probably include Buffalo, too.

Monday Musings

Today it snowed out of the blue. When I went to work in the morning it was cold, but sunny. Somewhere before sundown the wind started whipping up. Off to the north, the clouds grew dark, though those to the south remained white and fluffy, with patches of blue still visible between.

As the sun began to set the light grew golden. The wind tossed brown leaves around like boats on a choppy sea. That’s when the snow began–corn snow, pellet snow, vermiculite snow, depending on what part of the US you come from. The part I came from had no snow except for one day when I was in sixth grade and they closed the school. Before the next day it was gone.

I wish I had taken a picture of that sky–the gold sky, shimmering beneath brooding dark. It looked like magic, all thick and sparkling, as though walking out the door I would wind up in Bonnydoon. It looked apocalyptic, as though some terrible something had blotted out the sun. My boss said, back home, her original home in Minnesota, that sky would mean tornadoes. Perhaps it really was the work that kept her late, but perhaps she was just reluctant to leave the shop without a cellar to run to.

At the end of my shift I found the sidewalks and doorways filled with snow and my car covered from head to toe, while the streets were uncovered, damp and dark as the sky. I pulled my trusty scraper/brush combo from the trunk of my hatchback and cleared the windshields, letting the engine warm as I did.

I drove slow all the way home. I could see the ice beginning to crystalize on the pavement and knew my tires where pushing bald.

Today’s prepping wins:

  • Having an extra set of gloves in the car to wear when I couldn’t find my good ones
  • Having that multi-use scraper in the trunk so I didn’t have to beg or borrow from the woman one store down
  • Having an extra scarf and other warm clothes in the car, just in case

Today’s prepping fails:

  • Losing my good gloves in the first place
  • Not buying new tires before the snow hit
  • Ignoring for weeks the recall notice on my car because I haven’t had time to get over to the dealership (or even figure out where the dealership is) to get it taken care of

Sometimes the snow sneaks up on you, but given that our first light dusting hit over a week ago, it was well past time to get the car, and especially the tires checked out. As for the wins? Sometimes procrastination is a good thing and I’m happy to have wasted the trunk space for the last 7 months so I could have what I needed today.