There’s a temptation to make this storm, the storm of the young century, into an allegory for something grand.
It’s easy to say, hey, this is the hope Obama is talking about, or this is people coming together and helping out, or something along the lines of overcoming. (Of course, the Haitians, among others, may have a counterargument)
For the sake of optimism, let’s remember the good things that came out of the paralysis of a region. There were governments, businesses and people preparing for the storm (albeit with some food-related crises); strong communication across all platforms for transportation, emergency services and other important items such as sled-building and snowball fights. There were those hardy businesses and restaurants (mostly non-franchised) staying open; and there were the thousands who made the most of this rare opportunity of vehicle-free winter wonderland enjoyment.
But let’s not go overboard. It was merely a crazy storm — albeit historic, in many places — that people and institutions muddled through with surprising efficiency, grace, and a little humor and fun. We can be thankful that there have been no apparent deaths, that the emergency response has risen above the usual pathetic panic that grips such areas unfamiliar with real winters, and that most people realized the folly of driving about town.
What we can’t say, unfortunately, is that we could have predicted this response or this weekend’s fun, or that it’ll happen again the next time a big storm arrives — say, in two days.
All in all, there were some positive trade-offs for all the money, time, and effort this storm has cost us and will continue to bleed from us. Taking the good with the bad — that’s what a community that really knows about winter is able to do.
Congratulations, Washington, D.C.: If only fleetingly, you’ve earned your winter stripes.