The last wintry storm to hit the area before today made its presence known by knocking power out to thousands of residents. Many of those affected had to manage without power for days while companies such as National Grid and NYSEG made every effort to restore it.

However, in spite of this inconvenience, we consider this area lucky in that it seemingly did not have to bear the brunt of the storm. Many places, from Albany to parts of New England, had outages that lasted a significantly longer time. And from the look of weather broadcasts before the storm, it seemed as if things could have been much worse than they were. We're grateful that they weren't.

We applaud the reactions of not only the power companies and local officials to the storm, but the impressive response time of community organizations in making warming shelters available.

We hope that one positive outcome of the storm was that it reinforced the need to be prepared. Make sure that extra blankets, heavy winter apparel, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, canned food and bottled water, among other items, are readily available.

The National Weather Service labels winter storms "deceptive killers" because most deaths that occur are indirectly related to the storms themselves; most are a result of hypothermia and traffic accidents. The NWS had compiled a helpful survival guide that is worth a read and available by visiting the website http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures/wntrstm.htm.

Recession hits cultural centers

We were saddened to hear about the recent layoffs of the assistant director and the curator at the Hanford Hills Museum in East Meredith and staff at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown.

The economic climate has been particularly unkind to the arts, as many museums depend on the generosity of others, many of whom are also now struggling financially.

As a community that depends on such institutions for entertainment, enrichment and, from a financial standpoint, tourism, these layoffs and what they indicate are disheartening to witness.

Liz Callahan, the executive director of the museum, indicated that the decision was made all the harder because the staff at the museum consisted of fewer than 10 full-time employees.

Given the layoffs that have also been occurring at area businesses and industry, it seems we are facing some general rough times.

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