There is nothing like a hard freeze to bring you back to reality and make you appreciate the things we usually take for granted. I am not a cold weather person. I am sure I was made for beach weather. I just somehow ended up in East Texas. So, during the recent onslaught of rain, sleet, snow and temperatures in the teens, it made me want to dig deeper into a warm bed. It made me wonder though, how many of us really know what goes on behind the scenes during a weather event like our most recent one. TxDOT prepares year round for weather events and emergencies. The men and women who work in our maintenance departments put into action a plan they already know like the backs of their hands. Once that orchestrated plan is executed, they work through it and there is no stopping until the work is finished. Watching them during Hurricane Harvey was amazing. Our men and women responded to the Gulf Coast and never once complained about sleeping on cots, eating freeze-dried food or being away from their families for weeks at a time. I watched many of them work long hours when they shouldn’t have had the strength, but yet they continued. So, when I heard that winter weather was predicted in Deep East Texas, which we rarely experience, I knew our guys had it covered. Once the rain ended and the sleet began maintenance employees in all nine counties of the Lufkin District were on the job, monitoring and inspecting our roads and bridges that had already been pretreated. Roadways were passable until the snow began, temperatures dropped into the 20’s and ice began to form. Conditions deteriorated early Tuesday morning and bridges, fly-overs and overpasses had to be retreated. Our guys went back to work. I was contacted about problems to our north beginning at 1:30 am and by 4 am the calls and emails were steady and didn’t slow down until well into the afternoon. But TxDOT crews were not alone on our frozen roads. There were also many law enforcement officers and other emergency responders on the job handling needs and problems that would arise. I was touched by a photo of a Lufkin police officer covering a homeless woman with an extra blanket in 15-degree weather. Just the same way as I was touched by a photo of TxDOT employees loading those trapped in floodwaters into dump trucks and taking them to safety back in August of last year. Those are the types of things nobody signs up for and few people are aware of. Those kinds of actions come from people who are committed and have the compassion to help other people. Today, the sun is shining in Deep East Texas and temperatures are climbing above freezing. A beautiful weekend is ahead of us. As we all go about our weekend activities, maybe we should take a second to be thankful for those committed and compassionate enough to stand ready at the first sign of problems to maintain our roadways and keep our communities safe. Sun. rain, sleet or snow, they are always there.
Rhonda Oaks is a Public Information Officers for the Texas Department of Transportation and resides in Lufkin.
Stop having to buy new tires every six months! FIX IT ONCE AND FOR ALL!
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