Tuesday, March 3, 2009

America's Obsession wit Safety

We woke this morning to howling winds and snow fall that never stopped - it was hard to believe what was happening outside. That said, Jacob walked to swim anyway:)

Zelia slept until past 8 when I woke her, as I tried to figure out whether businesses and schools ever close in this place. I eventually got an email from Gerdur saying, no, schools don't close, if parents want they keep their kids at home, usually it depends on their ages and distance from the school and that businesses never close. I also got an email from Harpa, the dagmamma, and she said, if you come, I am here. So, we packed Zelia up, Jacob put on the snow shoes and took her. I got myself ready and headed to work.

As I was walking and could see no more than 100 yards ahead of me, I was struck, yet again by how safety obsessed we are in the States. It happened several times while I was in Panama - for intance, when I sat in a running taxi as the driver filled its gas tank up at the station and I laughed thinking how Americans are terrified of their cell phones ringing when they are filling up. So, here I was, walking in 50 mph winds in the dumping snow thinking how the schools were open and the kids were walking to school, and I was worrying about whether cars could see them and if they will get lost in the snow drifts!!!! Then I wondered, how well can the cars see me!!!!????

I got to school and it was empty!!!! no distance learners, no students finishing their HS education. Gunnasegga was there and said no one is coming in. Then I saw Martha Lilja and said, so school is on, huh? She has two kids. She said, they never cancel school! Only about 30 minutes later she received a phone call from the teacher asking her to pick her kids up, the schools were closing. Peter, also showed up after helping several cars out of drifts and we talked for a bit about some projects. I checked in with Gunnasegga, and she explained some of the avalanche warning systems in place. The road to Bonus had been closed and the businesses along it closed as well due to avalanche danger. The neighboring town, Bolungarvik was partly evacuated last night for the same reason and the road there is closed as well.

By 11:30 I thought I would head home, the police were asking people to stay home and Ingi showed me a great avalanche history map of the area (http://mbl.is/media/86/1286.pdf). Also it was reported to be getting worse by noon. When I went to see if Traian was heading out as well, I saw that Tanja had shown up for yoga. So, I stayed and we had a great class and then I headed home.

I got all ready and walked to the door to see a thigh high drift in front of it. There was a little gully from the wind and I stepped out and into the snow. The streets had been cleared a few hours before so were easier to walk on. This time I was heading into the wind and couldn't see past my toes! I got home, was shocked at the scary looking icicles on the way and did a little shoveling. Jacob had been shoveling every hour! You couldn't tell except that I could see the door. Looking out the window from our living room, I can almost no longer see outside, it has drifted to shoulder height. There are no signs of this lightening up, so there will be many more pictures coming.


Tzvi said...

There is a great "cool" whether in Isafjorður,isn´t it)?Wonderful pictures