The United States is currently being hit by a very powerful winter storm. Here in Chicago, driving is very treacherous, practically to the point of making road travel impossible. Flights out of O'Hare and Midway are being canceled. Schools are closed. Meteorologists are saying this might be the worst blizzard since the 1967 blizzard, the worst in Chicago history. In 1967, the Chicagoland area was covered by twenty-three inches of snow.
This blizzard certainly makes me appreciate all the public services we still have in Chicago. I would not be surprised if we hear some horror stories from municipalities that have slashed their budgets in response to the recession and the drastic drop in tax revenue that resulted. Austerity kills, sometimes literally.
Also, the blizzard has made me seriously question whether America’s car dependency is such a good thing. I am glad that I do not live in an extremely car dependent city such as those in the American West. If I need to go out to obtain goods I can take public transportation, either bus or train. I have bus stops and a train station within walking distance. Indeed, I am lucky enough to also have grocery stores and pharmacies within reasonable walking distance. I cannot imagine how bad it would be to be stuck in a car dependent suburb where one has to drive forty minutes to an hour or more in normal weather just to get to the grocery store or pharmacy. I have generally been ambivalent about the issue of suburban sprawl, but this blizzard makes me appreciate living in a traditional city neighborhood.
Hopefully, this storm will pass without too much damage. This is a good time to pray for those who are alone, especially the elderly, and of course, the homeless. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have warm, cozy homes to stay in should be thanking God right now for our good fortunate. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t have this luxury, which is why we must do our best to support local organizations that serve the poor and needy. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a good example and one of my favorites, as I have been familiar with it since my parochial school days.