Not over ice storm yet

Published 12:53 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

I’m still smarting from last week’s ice storm, and not because of the graceful spill I took in the center of Prestwood Bridge Road while out photographing the winter wonderland early Wednesday morning. What I can’t get past is how shut down we were.

When we learned Monday morning that winter weather was coming our way Tuesday evening and Wednesday, we immediately began shifting schedules in our pressroom. Four weekly newspapers we print – Brewton, Atmore, Graceville and Elba – all went to press a day early. Even on Monday, it looked doubtful their drivers could get them out of Andalusia on their normal Tuesday evening schedules.

When Tuesday morning dawned it looked as if we had erred on the side of caution. But we continued with our plan to print Andalusia’s and Troy’s Wednesday editions almost 12 hours early. When the print and mailroom crews went home Tuesday afternoon, it was great relief to know that they were safe.

Still, our efforts were almost for naught. The weather changed so quickly that very few of our newspapers got delivered that day. Wednesday, as you well know, no one was moving. We worked to keep our content updated on our web site, but it was impossible to print and deliver our papers.

Thursday morning, the first person in our parking lot, Jill Prevett, nearly slid into the building. Our press manager, Chris Love, slid into a ditch on the way here. Still, he cranked up the press and printed two newspapers without any help, then quickly joined the substitutes in the mailroom – Ruck Ashworth, Andrew Garner, and Honey. As Chris often tells me, “There’s no “I” in team.”

When I read on Facebook that Martha Givhan greeted her daughter, Endsley, that icy morning with two questions: “Are you going to work” and “Did the Star-News boy leave the paper,” I couldn’t help but laugh. People always expect their newspapers.

Alas, the roads were still too dangerous for our carriers to deliver. Nothing to do but make another newspaper, so we did. And finally, on Friday, newspaper carriers and mail carriers could deliver all three.

My rational mind knows that we did all we could have done, that this is the Deep South and we simply aren’t equipped to deal with ice. But my inner critic keeps asking myself, “You have helped your parents produce a newspaper when the office was totally under water. Twice. You have made a newspaper when there was no electricity in town after a hurricane. What happened?”

To our readers who depend upon the print edition, we apologize for the delays. To our employees who did everything they could to get the newspaper out, thank you. You are the very best.