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Ice storm serves as learning experience

It’s been an unimaginable ice storm — the likes of which we’ve not seen in North Texas in quite some time. Some say decades, others say even further back.

During Super Bowl 2011, we skated along iced-over roads for almost a week, stayed home and waited for warmer weather. It was tough but we managed.

This ice storm brought some new challenges and a few new words to our lexicon of knowledge — cobblestone ice and freezing fog.

Inches of ice are quite different to drive on than snow. There’s little to no traction for tires, leaving drivers spinning in place. And when partially melted ice reforms overnight, it creates a long stretch of bumpy ice potholes that play havoc with automobile shocks, tires and under carriages.

As the hardest hit county with estimates of up to 5 inches of ice, Denton County became ice storm central.

We saw miles of tractor-trailer rigs parked in place, blocking both sides of Interstate 35. For the first time in recent memory, mail and even some newspapers were, to put it bluntly, undeliverable as country and city roads became large, unrelenting ice rinks.

And our worst driving nightmare occurred on Lewisville Lake bridge when a pickup spun out of control and plunged over the guard rail into the icy lake waters, killing one woman.

We also saw many people look beyond themselves and their families, volunteering to take others in to their homes, man warming stations in Sanger, take blankets and other amenities to stranded drivers, offer towing services to those in ditches and much more.

We welcomed news of assistance from the Texas Army National Guard, called into service by Gov. Rick Perry to help Denton County begin to recover.

There were some bright spots in the ice storm. Though power outages affected some 227,000 people — it was far less than what was anticipated. Many of us were able to watch TV, play video games and, most importantly, stay warm during the past few days we spent at home. And the second wave of predicted ice and sleet barely materialized Saturday and Sunday.

Though we are not quite finished with ice storm 2013, we find ourselves reflecting on the past few days and how ill-prepared we are for such inclement weather. Yet despite the unexpected weather surprise and the calamity it has caused, the stories of caring and thoughtful actions of many make us proud to call ourselves North Texans.

Next time, we’ll be wiser and better prepared. And we will continue to be the hardy souls many have come to expect.