Editorial: In wake of storm, a new challenge

  • Updated: December 13, 2010 - 3:53 PM

Minnesotans were at neighborly best over weekend. Keep it up.

Photo: Jim Gehrz (top) and Carlos Gonzalez (bottom), Star Tribune

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Star Tribune Editorial

It will take several days for Minnesotans to dig out from the 2010 Dome-buster that brought back memories of the Halloween blizzard of 1991.

But digging out is what we do best, even if relatively mild winters in recent years have us out of practice.

A popular Twin Cities radio host often lampoons "weather terrorists" -- the meteorologists who sometimes swing and miss with their predictions of dangerous storms.

This time, the meteorologists were on target, and the weather created its own kind of terror.

Even with reliable forecasts, it's difficult to plan for the kind of storm that hit here Friday night and Saturday. The intensity of the blizzard, with historic Top 10 snow depths and strong winds from the northwest, left many observers searching for adjectives.

For a generation of Minnesotans who weren't alive in 1991 or were too young to remember the year winter began in October, the weekend storm of 2010 will serve as a weather rite of passage -- a memory they'll share with their own kids in the years to come.

Conditions were so bad Saturday that snow plows were ordered off the roads in some parts of the state, and dozens of buses were stuck and out of commission in the Twin Cities. In St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood, some motorists abandoned cars in the middle of unplowed streets, while others worked with strangers to push cars out of deep ruts. The fact that the storm hit on a weekend prevented even more traffic mayhem.

The most dramatic storm damage occurred in downtown Minneapolis. Just before dawn Sunday, the roof of the Metrodome collapsed, leaving the Vikings and New York Giants searching for a place to play. In an odd, disappointing season for the home team, it was a symbolic failure, sending the Vikings to play a "home'' game in Detroit. Those lobbying for a new stadium quickly pointed to the collapse as evidence that the aging Dome is no longer fit for an NFL franchise, with one group even comparing it to the 35W bridge collapse. That debate can wait, at least until the 2011 legislative session is underway.

Memorable storms typically bring out the best in Minnesotans -- at least for a day or so. Monday morning will bring another stiff test. Most of us will ignore sore backs and aching shoulders and return to work and school Monday, while the elderly and disabled face much greater day-to-day challenges. Some will need the help of younger, healthier neighbors over the next few days. Hopefully, the all-in-it-together spirit that kept us going over the weekend will linger.

This space is often used for calls to action on public policy matters. Today, the call is a relatively simple but important plea to our readers. If you know someone in your neighborhood who may need help dealing with the dangerous conditions expected to follow the weekend storm, take a minute and pick up a phone. You'll at least make a friend of a neighbor who needs groceries or a shoveled walk. In extreme cases, you may even save a life.

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