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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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Accusations Follow Excessive Expectations of Storm Fighting Capacity

A snow plow clearing the entrance to the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem during the major snow storm that hit the capital on Friday, December 13. Israelis are pointing the finger at government, but much of the disaster could have been avoided with better individual preparedness.

A snow plow clearing the entrance to the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem during the major snow storm that hit the capital on Friday, December 13. Israelis are pointing the finger at government, but much of the disaster could have been avoided with better individual preparedness.
Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Some Israelis made a few discoveries this past storm (dubbed Alexa, in case you were wondering): they had no idea how bad it gets in places like Buffalo and Poughkeepsie, not just for one weekend, but for the stretch between Hanukkah and Passover; they had no idea that’s how your car responds when you slam your breaks in a snow storm; they had no idea snow storms can cause days and days of blackouts; and they had no idea how long it can take snow removal teams to snow remove.

And so, along with the breathtaking images of Jerusalem and other ancient sites under a blanket of snow, Israel’s popular media began to fill with complaints. I suppose everyone arriving in Buffalo for the first time, say, in mid-January, was wondering how come the snow stays there for so long and how come local services are straining to meet the challenges of cut off service and snow packed highways and streets. But come the next year, I expect the whining diminishes.

Israelis, for whom a storm on this massive scale is something that happens only every third generation, were ready to impeach the national government and all the local governments in between.

Shalom Yerushalmi, who teaches Political Science, wrote in his Maariv column that he actually missed his 12:35 AM flight to New York Thursday. What a harrowing experience it had been. He couldn’t get a cab, so he drove his own car, a 2001 Mitsubishi, to the train station in Malcha, where they had promised to send out a train at 9:30 PM, but then they didn’t. So he had to take his car to Ben Gurion airport, but was stuck on the highway. Of course, police were begging folks not to use their cars and stay home, but he had a ticket to New York City, it has to trump the bad weather.

He sat in a traffic jam for three hours, as snow removal trucks were unable to snow remove, on account of the hundreds of Israelis who had opted to drive their cars, resulting in a few of them discovering belatedly what happens when you slam your breaks in the snow.

This guy decided to pick a different route, getting over to French Hill, so he could still catch his flight, which by now had been postponed to 5:20 AM. But the thing about Israeli driving is that whatever solution you have come up with – 200 Israelis had thought about it before you did, and so this new approach quickly filled up with Israeli cars that had swung out of control, on account of the don’t slam your breaks in the snow thing.

Finally, fearing for his life, our hapless traveler sought shelter from a friend who lived nearby. And he vows revenge: “The day will come when we’ll deal with those responsible for these failures. How can it be that major arteries would be closed like this? How can it be that friends of mine, one after serious back surgery, the other who is disabled, would be stuck at home without electricity and heat for four days?”

Of course, the way to guarantee heat during a snow blackout is to purchase a safe kerosene space heater, and the way to make sure you don’t run out of water is to store water in bottles and in your tub. And the way to make sure you don’t risk your life by getting stuck on a highway during a snow storm, is, for heavens sake, don’t drive your car when police are warning you to stay home.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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4 Responses to “Accusations Follow Excessive Expectations of Storm Fighting Capacity”

  1. and now the finger pointing begins

  2. James Johnston Ferguson says:

    The united kingdom comes to a virtual standstill when it snows "
    with just a few inches of snow everything is gridlock "
    our government has no idea on how to react"
    with a growing population unemployed -no minister has dared to make the jobless work clearing roads airport runways " no its to much to even contemplate how dare anyone suggest a national call up ! G-D-help us should we have a real crisis " mr Cameron should look at Germany -who did do a national call up to help fellow country folk ! maybe on day our unemployed will have to put their winter woollies on "

  3. If the government had spent millions prepping for a storm that only happens maybe once every 100 years, people would complain that they were wasting resources on something that may never happen. And really, the snow doesn't stick around for weeks on end, so stockpiling salt and snow-trucks seems excessive. Power-outages are a problem though, and eventually, we'll start to bury more of our power lines to prevent them. James Ferguson has a good idea though…if you're not doing anything, grab a shovel and burn some calories. If you have a good shovel, it's almost fun.

  4. Eva Feld says:

    Get a grip on reality Israel. We have destructive Monsoons, Haboobs and other disasters. We do the best we can, go to shelters and know that the utilities know all about it and then some. When it happens in the summer we swelter, in the winter, yes, we freeze. So get a grip, this doesn't happen to often to you, B'H we us it happens ever year! The question is not that, but WHEN. Join the club and be happy you had no casualties.

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