Readers comment on the nation’s weather preparedness
Sir, – With regard to
“Worst snowstorm in decades paralyzes country” (December 15), the failure of the
Israel Electric Corporation to ensure the supply of electricity to our capital
city requires that those responsible both there and at the Ministry of Energy
and Infrastructure be fired because they did not make sufficient provisions for
such weather conditions.
In those areas of the city where the electrical
cables are buried underground there was negligible failure. But where the cables
are suspended from pylons along the roads (a practice of bygone days), there
were major failures. For a “start-up nation,” we resemble a Third World country
in this respect.
There now is an opportunity to carry the main,
high-voltage lines to the city in the new railway tunnels under construction
from Sha’ar Hagai. Not only will this solve many problems, but it will produce a
more aesthetic solution to the unsightly pylons currently over the
Of course, there is an associated cost element, but the
benefit of planning for the future outweighs such considerations.
Sir, – The front-page photograph of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
displaying the capital’s preparedness for the expected snowstorm by posing
before a municipal rock salt spreader (“Jerusalemites’ thoughts turn to
snowflakes,” December 11) was a plain photo opportunity without any
In a radio interview with Reshet Bet on Friday at about 7:15
a.m., Barkat was questioned as to why Jerusalem’s roads had not been gritted
with rock salt prior to the snowfall. He claimed that this was not the practice
anywhere in the world. The radio host advised him that it was the practice in
the US and elsewhere. The mayor’s response was that it was not. So much for a
knowledgeable mayor! It is common practice in both the US and Europe for
municipalities to send out rock salt spreaders prior to the onset of snow falls
in order to keep major traffic arteries open. All Barkat needed to do was pick
up the phone and consult with his counterparts in New York or London, or even
the manufacturers of the rock salt spreaders.
It is clear that the
position of mayor in Israel should follow practices in the UK and elsewhere,
where the mayor is just a political figurehead responsible, with councilors, for
policy, leaving day-to-day operations and strategy to a paid executive team.
Each of our municipalities should have a chief executive responsible for
effecting policy and central government decisions instead of the current
practice, which resulted in the farce in Jerusalem.
During our recent
municipal elections, the main voter complaints in the capital related to litter,
potholes and damaged sidewalks, as well as the time it took to remove detritus
after previous storms. Perhaps Barkat, who has brought Western culture to
Jerusalem at great expense to local residents, might bring some of the world’s
better practices in terms of services.
COLIN L. LECI
Sir, – As
an emergency manager before I made aliya, I was deeply engaged in preparedness
operations for the US House of Representatives in Washington. I was involved in
the response to earthquakes, terrorist incidents, security situations, armed
individuals, suspicious aircraft and major special events where heads of state
and congressional leaders had gathered.
I understand the importance of
preparedness. I understand the importance of having a unified response
structure. And I understand that, even in the most prepared departments and
situations, your best-laid preparedness plans can go pieces in just a
While I was not present in Jerusalem or at the command center to
see how officials dealt with the snow emergency, I did incessantly follow
Twitter, the news and personal reports, and I must hand it to the emergency
crews and volunteers who came out to help. In my opinion, there is little, if
any, room for condemnation.
There is always room for improvement, even in
the most excellently executed plans. Perhaps some decisions could have been made
earlier, such as closing off Route 1 and Route 443 before the storm. Maybe Egged
could have stopped its service earlier. Perhaps the IDF should have pre-staged
equipment in the area.
The fact is, however, that the level of response
we witnessed would never have occurred in the United States. To highlight just
how good the response was, not a single person died in the Jerusalem area
because of the storm. Yes, four people, sadly, died during the storm, but not
one of those deaths was the result of a failed rescue attempt or an inability to
I wish to commend and congratulate the Jerusalem Municipality,
the Israel Police, the IDF, Zaka, United Hatzalah, the electric and gas
companies, Egged, Citipass and all the volunteers and organizations that
provided help during this unprecedented event. Don’t let people tell you this
was not a job well done. You have proven yourselves to be the pride of our
people and the pride of our country.
The writer worked for 10 years in the Office of the Sergeant at Arms for the US
House of Representatives, performing a wide array of emergency management,
security and IT duties
Sir, – It was late Friday afternoon (Friday the 13th, no
Shabbat was almost upon us.The weather in Mevaseret Zion
was close to blizzard conditions. A mother and father were schlepping
along the main street with their eight children in tow. It was not so
many years ago that this young Filipino family had embraced Judaism. What would
they now do for Shabbat? For meals? For sleeping? And the mother was nearly
ready to give birth to number nine.
Out of the whirlwind came the sexton
of one of the local synagogues. “Do you need assistance? A place to stay?” The
family was experiencing its very own Elijah the Prophet to rescue them in the
nick of time. Its members were afforded the very best guest accommodations by
the local Sephardi rabbi. They received the highest honors on Shabbat morning at
services. At a very special luncheon they were acclaimed by the local Ethiopian
As the family prepared for the precious and holy
Shabbat afternoon nap, the mother went into labor. The sexton, a certified Magen
David Adom emergency medical technician, helped her with the birth. A beautiful,
healthy baby girl was born.
At the afternoon Torah reading the baby was
named. You guessed it: Mevaseret Ziona.
Sir, – Israel Railways ran two trains on Shabbat to and from Jerusalem on
account of the storm. This could have been highly appropriate and desirable from
all points of view if it did the right thing by picking up stranded people
waving them down at every station, and even elsewhere along the
Important trains in the US and Canada, like the Canadian, the
California Zephyr and the Empire Builder, have a history of doing just that in
blizzards. Even fast, time-sensitive container trains have done this and carried
people in locomotives and cabooses.
The *Post* stated that the trains
would stop only at a few important stations. If this is what happened, it tells
me that Israel Railways is not in any way responsive to public needs and simply
was looking for an excuse to run trains on Shabbat.
I have long believed
that the management of Israel Railways regards the railroad as its personal
DAVID LLOYD KLEPPER
Sir, – Many thanks, Jerusalem
Post. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to have the paper reach us early on Friday and
Sunday. Kol hakavod!
TAMAR and YOSI GINAT