The story of a windstorm

Western NY was forecast to get high and sustained winds on March 8, 2017 – much like the windstorm of about a week prior. Some meteorologists contended this would be less aggressive than last weeks even. 

That was certainly not the case. By midmorning the calls for service had started making their way into the Monroe County and City of Rochester’s 911 center. And the call volume did not drop off until late in the afternoon.A source cites that 911 answered over 10,000 calls for service today and mandated an entire platoon of employees to stay. This, even though the County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo released a statement not to call 911 unless it was a high priority emergency. That is a good move on her part, but the problem is most citizens have a difficult time distinguishing a true emergency from a call trying to help out or what they perceive as a true emergency. 

As a firefighter and paramedic, I have responded to what appears to the person calling 911 as a legitimate life threatening emergency. When first responders arrive, sometimes they are as far from that as possible and often leaves us wondering why they called 911. I have had calls for people who could not sleep, for hangnails, for colds, and a hundred other reasons that don’t fit the claim of an emergency. Monroe County’s 911 mantra is “Send Someone”.

Today firefighters criss crossed the county responding to wires down, poles down, trees toppled and the like. Meanwhile the City of Rochester forestry department called it quits because it was too dangerous for them to be remedying the situations. RG&E only has so many trucks and men trained to make an electrical situation safe. I am sure that every resource they had was on the job. Every fire department including career and volunteer were staffed and responding to calls. Yes, there were situations that no one got to. Police and highway crews were doing what they could and posting barriers to roads that were impassable. Response times were elongated and the 911 center had calls in queue. It is a fact of life that every municipality cannot handle every natural disaster that comes our way. Even with advanced warning it takes a village to lessen the impact. I just read that over 100,000 people are without power. Tonight, the entire village of Churchville is without power.  

When I say that it takes a village,  I mean that we have to help each other out. Listen to the radio, watch the TV news broadcasts, Twitter and Facebook were glowing with information it was coming in so fast. Be mindful that the people out there doing their jobs are doing the absolute best they can. calling 911 for the same problem makes this even worse. 

My fellow journalists are often scoffed at for being out in the weather, potentially in harm’s way to bring you the news. But that’s the dichotomy of being a journalist. we have to be out there to not only show you what is happening and where to stay away from, what is closed – including schools and business’ but an even more important reason.

You may not be aware, but journalists, radio, newspaper, and broadcast are the first people to record history. History that is developing and will be looked back on. Justin Murphy from the Democrat and Chronicle researched a story on when the Liberty Pole was taken down by wind at the end of the 19th century. So when you see journalists in conditions that are not favorable, you may understand that they have a passion for news, and it is a necessity to document the history of humans and our reactions to events such as this.  

Some of the streets are closed for the night, many people do not have power. Trees that have stood since the civil war may have come crashing down. The cleanup and restoration of normal activity is going to take days. be patient, be positive, help another human being if you can. Make this storm have bright lights of shining glory that is the good nature of our fellow man.