It is the season for holiday songs on the radio, Pandora, and Spotify. I can’t imagine you haven’t heard “Let is Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” at least once. This iconic song starts out with these lyrics:
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”
I hope that was the case for you and your family this week. With few power outages, school out, and remote work possible for some, I hope the snow was a beautiful change to our normally wet winter weather routine.
The snow also was a huge barrier and potentially dangerous to some of our residents that had “places to go” (like essential workers, key medical appointments, and even SeaTac airport), and others who did not have a home where a “fire is so delightful.”
Bruce Wagner and our County Roads Team cancelled all their plans and skipped sitting by a warm fire to get our key transportation links restored. Our snowplow drivers have been working 12-hour shifts since Christmas with our 28 plows running 24/7. Supporting this mission is an entire logistics team including: those answering our customer service lines; to mechanics that keep the plows operational; and colleagues who make sure we have enough salt for the roads. At one of the dispatch meetings, I reconnected with one of our newest drivers who I recently met during New Employee Orientation!
I gained a new appreciation for what the plow drivers do when I did a ride along earlier this year. It’s a difficult job, as you will see.
And remember, our ferry system to Anderson and Ketron Islands was also impacted by the cold and snow! Trever Thede and his team had to overcome many challenges to keep this critical service running.
With the nighttime temperatures in the teens and daytime highs well below freezing, our unhoused community was especially vulnerable. Providing seven temporary warming centers, expanding existing shelters, coordinating transportation, establishing four distribution centers for outreach teams, and making over 600 blankets available took an incredible feat of teamwork and collaboration. Jody Ferguson and our amazing Department of Emergency Management (DEM) was the hub of this incredible effort. But DEM brought the subject experts, including John Barbee and Gerrit Nyland from Human Services and community members from the Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, into the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This effort including heavy lifting and coordination by DEM staff, but also Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, Pierce Transit and several local faith communities.
Thanks, also, to the folks in Facilities Management who made sure we could keep County buildings safe and warm for those who needed to be in our offices.
I also appreciate the work of the Communications team who have been working non-stop to keep our residents and employees up to date with the latest information on roads, services, and schedule changes. And our Sheriff’s Department deputies never missed a beat protecting our community despite the snow.
I know there are many more of you who have supported the massive effort that is required during significant weather events. I’m grateful for every person who has contributed to this work. I know our residents appreciate it, too!
I’m ready to turn the page to 2022, and I’ll bet you are, too. I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at noon for our Employee Town Hall. You can submit anonymous questions for me here. I’m eager to hear what’s on your mind as we start the new year!