SALLY SANTORA/For the County News
Fire departments within Livingston County were on alert and staffed with volunteers during Hurricane Sandy. At the Caledonia firehall, Tom Torpey, Kevin Keenan and Sean Ancker are among the firefighters on standby.
Best weather in America, but we’re ready for the worst
After the startling images of floodwaters and explosions in downtown Manhattan showed up on television and online, my out-of-town friends and relatives got worried.
I patiently explained that Livingston County is closer to Cleveland than New York City. During the “superstorm” caused when Hurricane Sandy got mixed up with a Nor’easter, we got a little wind and some rain, but things were no worse here than a severe thunderstorm.
My own hometown of Wise, Va. got nearly a foot of wet snow caused by Sandy. Several times a year, my friends there report blizzard conditions while we remain relatively flake-free. Last winter, I shoveled the driveway fewer times than I can count on one hand.
My humblest expressions of sympathy go out, as they do from all of us, to those who lost their lives or property to what has been called one of the worst storms in the 20th century. However, I can’t help but be grateful to have chosen to live in a place which is rarely threatened by major weather events.
The Appalachian Mountains to our south protect us from East Coast storms and Lake Ontario to our north keeps our winters mild. We’re too far east for the worst of Lake Erie lake effect blizzards and too far south for much of Lake Ontario’s snows. Our summers are glorious — not too hot, not to humid with long, cool northern nights. Autumn and spring bring brilliant patchwork of color.
I’ll put on a sweater and take a soggy backyard in May if it means getting to avoid a barrage of tornados, hurricanes, devastating floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, wildfires, subzero cold snaps and 100+ Faherenheit “Dog Days.” As far as weather is concerned, Livingston County is about as good as it gets. And I’m not the only one who knows this!
I might be tempting fate to boast about our temperate climate, and I’m typing this with my right hand while knocking loudly on a piece of wood with my left. It’s only a matter of time before Western New York makes headlines for its own major weather event.
But that gives me another thing to be proud of.
Our emergency services system is a thing of beauty. Every town has at least one highly-trained fire and ambulance department, all with agreements with their neighbors. An integrated emergency communications system at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office can dispatch help within moments. For the most serious cases, we can summon the National Guard in Geneseo or a Mercy Flight helicopter from Canandaigua. If the roads get too rough, we’ve got a big pile of salt in Hampton Corners to melt the snow and ice away.
While mass emergencies here are rare, these professionals show their worth hundreds of times a year when individuals suffer tragedies that are no less dire than any we’ve seen on TV.
If cameras ever come to show the world a fluke disaster that has beset Livingston County, they’ll also see a community that knows how to take care of itself.