We all know this storm was a bad one. It caused us all some inconvenience and for many, a healthy dose of anxiety. But this woman's experience, shared with others in her four-plex, is downright scary and inexcusable.
This is what happens when Farmington Woods uses funds that should be available for the safety and security of residents to shore up two losing operations at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. It's really a sad, scary tale.
I am very grateful to our grounds crews and road crews for working long, hard hours with insufficient equipment and too small a staff. I am grateful to staff members who took calls from residents and worked hard to keep residents informed and to coordinate snow removal. I am grateful for their efforts to free doctors, nurses, first responders, and residents who had important medical appointments.
Let’s thank them as soon as we can and, then, start to honestly look at the risks we faced during the February 8-9 snowstorm. Although this was record-breaking storm, we were warned of it several days in advance. While weather reports forecast 30 or more inches of snow and hurricane force winds, which they warned would cause serious problems with drifting snow, governors and mayors all around
put their emergency plans into action.
We should have been prepared. We should not have had at least 2 snow blowers broken and one truck out of commission. Rather than plowing a parking area around an empty Club House, we should have been clearing the walkways to the homes of people. Instead of subsidizing the golf course, and continuing to make plans to re-design/re-decorate the Club House, we should be fixing equipment when it breaks down and purchasing or leasing whatever is needed to keep residents safe.
I live in a 4-plex, and those of us who were at home on the night of the storm were literally trapped inside our building. The two doors to the building were blocked by more than 30 inches of snow and could not be opened more than two inches. Had there been a fire, or had one of us suffered a medical emergency, we could not have gotten out of the building, and any emergency response crew would probably have taken 30 - 60 minutes to get into our building. Those are precious minutes in the event of a stroke, a heart attack, a fall which breaks a major bone.
In my courtyard there are two 4-plexes, and two buildings with 2 side by side units in each. Not all units are occupied at this time, but I know that 4 of the 11 occupied units are home to people who are physically compromised and who might require considerable assistance in an evacuation. In any case, our homes were firetraps --- deathtraps.
On the second night of our confinement, using a Loctite penetrating oil and some tools, I was able to detach the screen window on the building’s front door, move the Plexiglas windows, and stick my hand through the door to scoop away enough snow that I could push the door about 7 inches and squeeze through. Once outside, I was able to shovel off our front doorstep, so that in case of an emergency, we could escape the building, or open the door to a rescue crew. On the third day of being so confined, my neighbor dug a 60 foot path away from the building and another path to a neighbor’s home, while I dug the path to a second neighbor’s home. On the third night, working well into the dark of night, our road crew came to dig out our garages. We can return to work now. Hopefully the rest of our community will be freed soon.
Now it is time to ask, “What can we learn from this experience? Do we prefer subsidizing an expensive irrigation system, cart paths, and other golf course improvements to keeping ourselves and our neighbors safe? Do we prefer a fancy Clubhouse entrance or even an elevator, or would we rather feel we have provided for the safety of everyone? What are the prudent decisions we need to make to protect our community?”