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Rhode Islanders don’t show up to a blizzard with a credit card

January 19, 2011

Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence before sunrise the day some 16 inches hit Rhode Island

You have to understand: in the south your credit card is your ice scraper.

So when two to four inches of snow falls below the Virginia-North Carolina border, it’s a big deal because nobody’s equipped to handle it, which is why I didn’t know what to expect the first time Rhode Island got socked with more than a foot of snow. But you Rhode Islanders are well prepared with legions of trucks working the streets hours before the first snow flake. You’re also smart enough to stay off the roads.

We prepare in the newsroom as well: setting up interviews with RIDOT officials to get the latest road conditions, getting contact information on people who will have the latest information on power outages and traffic accidents, and checking in the night before with residents stockpiling at the grocery store (Why milk and bread? French toast?)

By 4:00am the newsroom is buzzing. Morning Edition host Elisabeth Harrison and producer Alex Nunes are gathering information on closings, putting out calls to forecasters, and running out into the storm to talk with storm crews about how it’s going. This isn’t easy. Every media outlet pretty much wants to talk with the same people at the same time, sometimes information isn’t updated for hours, and the conditions to get out and report are often treacherous for the ones sent to the hardest hit parts of the state.

We brave the roads when you don’t have to because it’s part of our public service mission. And we hope you have found it helpful as you woke up in the morning, heard about the road conditions, and decided to stay in bed and listen to the radio.

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