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The Family as Protector

Who will keep them safe?
Who will keep them safe?

Now that we’re in the final throes of the winter of 2014, and are about to commit to memory one of the most difficult winters of the 21st century, it’s wise to remember one of the greatest lessons learned from the three-month period just passed. That lesson is, the family serves as the primary protector of its individual members.

The lesson came to us as a result of the first ice storm of this past winter. It was an ice storm that caught all of our elected officials by surprise (state, county, and city). With all of the weather agencies calling for serious ice, snow, and freezing temperatures within the next forty eight hours, everyone went about business as usual. Apparently, no one had any concerns about the looming difficulties. On the day that the storm was predicted to hit, mom and dad went to work and all the kids went to school. Then disaster struck. On the way back home that evening, hundreds and hundreds of parents were stranded in their vehicles on the highways as roads became impossible to traverse due to icy road conditions. Because of those same conditions, hundreds of school students were unable to get home and actually had to stay overnight at their schools while attended to by education officials. Only by the grace of God did the kids come through this debacle with only minor injuries, mostly to their psyches.

Once we dug out of this mess a few days later, the finger pointing began. On radio talk shows and in letters to the editors, you saw and heard it all. How dare the state and city officials not be prepared with the proper ice melting road salt? How dare the school officials not close schools for this day? But listening to one radio talk show, I heard a voice of reason. A caller indicated that, once having been apprised of impending doom, she kept her children home from school that day and called in sick from her job. Furthermore, she had stocked up on the vital necessities and was prepared to sit out the storm. Others had apparently done likewise. The Kroger Store in Toco Hills (in east Atlanta) had done a record business on the day before the storm; over a quarter million dollars in sales in one day. Some families were getting prepared, other families (as were the elected and school officials) were rolling the dice. The families that were prepared spent a quiet night and next day in the confines of their well-stocked homes. The unprepared families found some of their members stranded overnight on the highways and kids depending on teachers to keep them safe.

Disaster preparedness experts echo the sentiments of that radio caller who kept her children home on her own authority. Retired U.S. Army Lt. General Russell L. Honore is the author of “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family From Disasters.” He became a household name in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and he is of the opinion that surviving disaster must start “from the perspective of the family and individual.” Many of us apparently learned our lessons. Three weeks after the first ice storm, all of us got a chance for a do over when a more serious storm impacted our area. We all came through with flying colors; even our elected officials. In Greek mythology, one of the duties of Hera (the wife of Zeus) is that of family protector. In modern society, that role falls to mom and dad.