Opinion|Phil Paleologos: Reliving Blizzard Of ’78
Feb. 6 marks 40 years since the Blizzard of '78. Do you know anyone who was there and has a story to tell?
Other than a Super Bowl, nothing around here bring our neighbors together like a bad storm. Today the Blizzard of 1978 has stored away in memory banks, but I'm bringing out this week.
Let's begin on Jan. 20, 1978, when the National Weather Service in Taunton said to keep an eye out on a storm that was supposed to be an all rain event but instead turned into two-foot snowfall which set the stage for the ensuing disaster that followed two weeks later. This forerunner to the Blizzard of '78 had brought so much snow that the roof of the Hartford Civic Center actually caved in from the weight.
By 1 p.m. on Feb. 6, snow began falling at an alarming rate-up to 3 inches an hour in some places. What may have begun as a fun adventure was getting downright scary trapping drivers in their cars as the winds began to howl upwards of 70 miles per hour. Some would end up spending days in those automobiles and a few would not make it out alive.
Advance warning was lacking because satellite technology was still in its infant stage. Radio and television were the only way people got information. I was on-the-air at WNBH in New Bedford. Our news department was constantly giving out non-stop weather material. I was fielding phone calls about needing and giving help and generally trying to keep my listeners' company.
As I answered the on-air phone call from a panicking young mother, she sounded desperate that her infant baby needed food and she had run out of the formula. I can't remember what I told her but a minute didn't pass when a doctor called in. His voice could calm the rough seas. He explained what everyday ingredients the mother could mix together to create a concoction to help sustain and nurture her baby.
The lesson learned from just that one phone call reminds me of a community's finest hour during a storm. That people become supportive, caring and cherubic, at least during events like the Blizzard of '78.
It's a little sad how quickly we revert back to our normal selves once the snow has been plowed away.
Phil Paleologos is a talk show host on WBSM Monday through Friday from 6-10 a.m. His comments are solely his own.