By Rick Callihan

Do you know how that family down the street always seems prepared? They have all those odd tools you need, always have a set of jumper cables hanging in the garage, and yes – they have snow sleds stashed in the attic.

Those jumper cables may dangle for years without seeing any action, but their owner is prepared. The basin wrench and pipe cutter in the bottom of the old metal toolbox see the light of day but once every few years, but their owner is prepared. Up in the attic, behind the Halloween decorations and beside the old baby crib, you’ll find a couple of red snow sleds ready to perform when called upon.

Some might criticize the purchaser of such rarely used items, perhaps calling the spending as wasteful. But when you need that jump or that special wrench, you know where to go. And when it snows, all the kids know whom to call.

The snow and ice storm of a couple weeks ago is but a memory now that all the evidence has melted away. Dunwoody children will surely remember it as the week of no school and as the sled-riding event of the decade. Parents will also remember it as the week of no school and the week of icy road conditions.

Like the rest of the metro area, our city was not equipped to quickly clear most of the roads of ice and snow. I don’t blame the city for not having a couple of snow plows and a few tons of road salt stored over at Brook Run, but I think the city should take steps to prevent such an episode in the future.

Like the guy down the street who has those sleds tucked away, Dunwoody needs to be that community with a few plows tucked away.

I suggest the city purchase two plows than can be attached to city-owned trucks, and also purchase a couple of salt-dispensing units that can be placed in the back of these same trucks. The cost to do this would be about $20,000. If we can spend $100,000 for branding and a logo, we can spend $20,000 in preparation of another storm to ensure that our roads won’t remain icy for days after a snowfall. If it is 10 years before another such storm occurs, so be it.

The storm we had was troublesome for road crews since the 6 inches or so of snow was topped off with a crusty ice topping. By not having roads quickly cleared of the snow prior to the freezing rain, the cars that did venture out compacted the mix on the road, creating thick ice in many places.

We’ve all heard the term cabin fever, but it usually is associated with people living further from the equator than do we. Monday seemed to be the day of nothing. Very few people ventured outdoors except for sled-riding activities.

By Tuesday and Wednesday, Dunwoody’s commercial areas were bustling with foot traffic. Not since the Dunwoody Arts Festival last Mother’s Day have I seen so many people walking to and from the Dunwoody Village area. My visit to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and a cold pitcher of beer proved that I was not alone in needing to get out. The place was packed with families during a time when the kids normally would have been in math class.

Dunwoody kids have favorite spots around town to play. We have local parks, swim and tennis communities, and basketball courts and pools at local places of worship. But places like the Dunwoody Nature Center and Brook Run took the back seat as kids (and adults) flocked to any cleared land with a double-digit grade to fly downhill on anything with a smooth bottom.

Phone calls and text messages quickly spread the word of the best spots for sledding. People rode traditional sleds, inflated swim tubes, plastic lids, and even cookie sheets.

Next time it snows, let’s hope all Dunwoody kids have sleds and Dunwoody city staff is hailed as heroes for being prepared. In the city’s push to be self-sufficient and sustainable, let’s prepare now.

View Rick Callihan’s Dunwoody Talk blog at