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If you have lived during the winter months on the Plains, you know what a ground  blizzard is. The most well-known blizzards are winter storms that produce several inches occurring with strong winds that cause blowing snow and whiteout conditions, but not all blizzards happen this way. Ground blizzards develop with little or new snowfall.

 

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And that is where we are now.  We are in the middle of an economic and health ground blizzard.   We are feeling the winds of fear and disbelief, we have watched the “rapid temperature” drop of the stock market.  It is not unlike one of the most infamous ground blizzards in the United States which was the “Children's Blizzard of 1888,” which killed an estimated 235 people in the Great Plains. This ground blizzard was extremely dangerous because it was preceded by unseasonably warm air, which caused people to let their guard down; much like those of us who have been experiencing the excellent economic and health environments of our country.

The typical ground blizzard occurs when, an Arctic cold front, moves through the region, causing temperatures to drop and winds to increase rapidly, often reaching gusts of 50 to 60 mph. If there are several inches of deep fresh snow on the ground, this strong wind will quickly pick up the snow and create whiteout conditions.  That is where we are today, in the white-out.  We can see there is a road ahead of us, we just cannot see where it goes or where the next bend is.   If you live on the Plains you know what you must do, pull over to the side of the road, and shelter in place.  That is exactly what we have been advised to do with the coronavirus. 

Because Plains people know that these blizzards occur, they do prepare, they stock their pantries in the fall, they never let their gas tanks go below the half-way mark, and they carry blankets and candles in the trunks of their cars. This is also why financial advisers always tell us to create rainy day funds both personal and corporate.

 We can now see that those “evil” big employers with large cash funds are going to be instrumental in stabilizing the economy during the storm we are now facing. 

For many of us, we are sheltering at home, working on projects put on the sidelines, experiencing the rare opportunity of having family time behind our closed doors as the storm rages outside.  The lights and heat are on because there are those braving the storm to keep our vital public utilities operating. 

Another reason these blizzards are dangerous is the cold temperatures that follow behind the Arctic front. Anyone stranded in their vehicle or forced to walk outside is at risk of frostbite or hypothermia.  We know that there are many of our small businesses which have been caught on the road, and are pulled over, waiting for the storm to cease and help to come.  We also know there are many brave citizen’s out in the storm, at risk to their personal lives, to get help to those who need it.

What to do when you cannot see the road ahead?  Remember the storm always ends. Government’s job is to put in-place the rescue measures needed and that is what they are doing.  Government’s next job is to preserve the tax base without taking over private companies.  What do we do as individuals?  Don’t blame others for what is a natural but disastrous occurrence. Do heed official warnings and recommendations. Do help your neighbors. Do ask for help if you need it.  We are not alone. We are all on this road together.

Have faith in each other, in our country, in our futures, and in God. Spring is on its way.

~Lorraine Newman

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