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Sending dispatches from the ice planet Hoth — I mean, Vicksburg

Greetings from Hoth.

Hoth, as Star Wars aficionados are well-aware, is the ice planet where the Rebel Alliance was at the opening of “The Empire Strikes Back.”

And as I look out my window at the cars, the parking lot and green space of our apartment complex, the thick coating of ice overwhelming the landscape, I think about the image of Hoth I saw sitting in a theater ages ago.

We don’t have the ice monster, no one’s riding taun-tauns like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rode in the movie, and the Empire isn’t sending drones to check things out, but the cold temperatures and the white stuff outside is enough to rekindle the images I remember from the movie.

For someone like me, who enjoys getting out and covering weather stories, it’s rather frustrating to be stuck inside. But as I get along in years I find myself being more conscious of my health and safety and watching how I do things. Still, I miss hopping in my truck and getting out to talk to officials and telling the story of a crew battling the elements and repairing a waterline. 

So I sit here at the kitchen table and get my money’s worth out of my cell phone and Bluetooth earpiece as I call officials like Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer and City Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman to get updates on what’s going on out in Hoth. The meteorologists at the National Weather Service and I are almost on a first-name basis.

This isn’t the first time I’ve covered a winter storm. I recall the frigid cold blast in Cullman, Ala., I helped cover as the paper’s editor. The temperature dipped to 6 below zero. I flew back to Baton Rouge, La., to see my family on a flight that was delayed because “the fuel truck was frozen.”

There was the storm in Decatur, Ala., that dropped 16 inches of snow and the temperature dipped to 9 degrees. And the ice storm in Meridian in the mid-90s.

I remember Meridian because the power went out and we had a fireplace that kept us warm for several days.

Those ice storms were what kept this southern boy from moving north where the winters are freezing and the snow stays on the ground too long.

And I’ve found living in the South that when disasters like this storm hit it brings out the humanitarian in southerners. I’ve found people are willing to give someone in distress a hand, like the restaurants and others who fed emergency and medical workers and truck drivers and other motorists who were stranded on Interstate 20 by the icy roads.

It makes me proud to say I’m from the South.

As we approach the end of the week, the cold weather will be leaving and the warm-up will begin as temperatures finally move above freezing.

The sun will rise again and the ice will melt. And I’ll stop wishing I was on Tatooine.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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