FM Frequency: Baptism By Ice Storm

Memories of snowy childhood winters give Crane new respect for those professionals in charge with keeping people safe, informed, and productive.
Memories of snowy childhood winters give Crane new respect for those professionals in charge with keeping people safe, informed, and productive.

FM Frequency: Baptism By Ice Storm

FM Frequency: Baptism By Ice Storm

By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the March 2004 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

If you routinely enrich your facility management experience by reading Today’s Facility Manager, you may have caught one of my columns that mentioned a recent career change and relocation. As suspected, my new position has already provided a “career first” that I’m excited to share. But first, I have to take readers back in time to the place where I spent the first seven years of my childhood-a little western New York town called Arcade.

During a famous winter storm known as “The Blizzard of ’77”, I remember my dad wrecking his new truck and coming home with a “For Sale” sign for our house. He was determined to move the family to Florida 35 years ahead of his genetically mapped New York-to-Florida migration DNA helix, so I enjoyed grades four through 12 with a great suntan. After leaving home to spend my college years and early 20s falling in love with my wife and the state of North Carolina, we moved to Charleston, SC for a career opportunity. Again, I found myself enjoying a coastal community among many folks (again with great tans) who had made the New York-to-Florida-to the Carolinas pilgrimage.

After living in tropical climates for most of my life (and seeking yet another career challenge), I was ready to stop paying flood insurance premiums. I was prepared to move to a place where the seasons actually changed, where I could be closer to extended family members (who had followed me to North Carolina). And that’s how I ended up in Charlotte, NC in the midst of one of the coldest, stormiest winters in recent history.

Only a few short weeks into my new position, I was faced with the Winter Storm of 2004. It began on a Sunday afternoon, with plunging temperatures and accumulating freezing rain, sleet, and snow across the mid-Atlantic. I scrambled back to Charlotte from Charleston that evening and quickly learned to navigate icy roads on extra long commutes. It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that the sun came out and ended the ordeal.

As my first winter storm as a “grown up,” this turned out to be quite an experience! I got to watch municipalities, emergency services, and private property owners handle snow plowing, ice melting, fender benders, and emergency response. I got to slide around in my old Ford Bronco and gained a quick appreciation for the fact that four-wheel drive and antilock brakes provide little comfort when all four wheels-along with the rest of a vehicle and driver-go sliding through a stop sign.

My most notable observation was that during winter storms (similar to the hurricane threats frequently faced by people who live over on the coast), the people responsible for the smooth operation of roads, bridges, safety services, utilities, news, and buildings never took a day off. School kids spent three days creating snowmen and turning cardboard boxes into makeshift sleds. Joe Businessman (and his female counterpart, Jane) slept late and enjoyed an extra latte while working at home on the handy corporate laptop.

While these people enjoyed their snow days, countless brave men and women got up several hours early and worked late-often literally risking their lives for the safety and comfort of their neighbors and customers.

Time and again these people-facility professionals included-go above and beyond the call of duty. It doesn’t matter how nasty the weather gets or how severe an emergency becomes. Police officers, paramedics, firefighters, utility technicians, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, data center operators, meteorologists, reporters, and facilities people are always on the job.

Thanks to these combined (and often coordinated) efforts, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, and bucket trucks stay on the road. Hospitals continue caring for the sick. Forecasts and news updates keep the public informed. Food and water are available on the store shelves. And data centers continue operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As a member of one of these essential professions, be proud of what you do and know you’re in good company.

Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and property management services provider in the Southeast.


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