Extreme circumstances bring out the extremes in people.
That’s been proved many times before and was on full display again during the snow disaster that was Winter Storm Stella.
First, let’s start with the extremely good, because there certainly was a lot of that to be observed.
We were touched — nearly brought to tears — by the amazing effort made by State Police, PennDOT, the Pennsylvania National Guard and medical crews to escort a 23-month-old child to a life-saving procedure at Geisinger’s pediatric hospital in Danville.
The boy was born with a congenital heart defect, reports say, and was in critical condition last Tuesday at a hospital in East Stroudsburg in the midst of Stella’s wrath.
“Pocono Medical Center is not equipped to care for critical pediatric patients,” the boy’s mother told the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.
Her son could have died without immediate treatment.
Our news-gathering partner, Fox 56, says his platelets had dropped to a dangerously low level, and he needed a transfusion.
That meant an approximately 80-mile trip to Danville, made possible by the help of an envoy that included snowplows to lead the way.
The doctors then did their job, and the child was sitting happily with his parents during an interview a few days later.
Anyone mind that the plows were diverted from perhaps your highway to help this family?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Big kudos to everyone involved in that effort.
And speaking of those plows, there must have been a valiant effort by the city of Wilkes-Barre and its hired hands overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday.
The most heavily traveled streets — still by no means in great condition — were nonetheless much better by the time most folks headed to work. (If they did manage to venture in that day.)
And that was after a frigid Tuesday night that was turning slush into icy masses with the consistency of bricks.
And then by Thursday, things were almost back to normal. Let’s keep in perspective that was less than 48 hours after Stella finished and less than 24 hours after some stubborn squalls caused a little more mess Wednesday.
We must also want to give a tip of the cap to Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George.
He deserves credit for his press conference Wednesday to update the public. He stood out there in front of the cameras even though he knew he’d be an easy target for a lot of frustrated folks weary of shoveling and feeling snowbound.
The mayor preached patience; it was going to take a while to clean such a huge mess.
“People have to remember this is a disaster. It’s not a snowstorm,” George said.
It was the quote of the week. And it summed up perfectly the challenge facing municipalities of all shapes and sizes.
Regardless of whether you liked the message (probably not), the mayor was just being honest. Good for him.
Finally, shame on some of the pedestrians boldly walking in the middle of the street and nearly causing some downtown accidents in Stella’s wake.
One idiot — there really is no other way to describe him — was seen strolling right down the middle of snow-packed Washington Street late last Tuesday with a 12-pack of beer in tow.
Did he know the risk he was exposing himself to? It’s not like any driver out that night had great traction. He could easily have been hit by a moving vehicle that couldn’t stop in time to avoid him.
Sadly, that guy wasn’t the lone violator. Another person was seen walking in the middle of Northampton Street late Tuesday, for seemingly no particular reason. That pedestrian also made it harder on drivers who had to stop to make way for him.
Bottom line: The usual rules of traffic apply during a snowstorm, even a big one. It’s still not OK to walk in the middle of the street.
And if anyone knows where the guy with the 12-pack was going, please let us know. We want him to explain how his trip qualified as “essential” business.