This week’s Southern snowstorm allowed us all to make our typical comments about the area’s chronic lack of preparedness for winter weather.
“I know I’ll be careful, I’m just worried about the other drivers.”
“Those snow boots and ice scraper are around here somewhere.”
“I wonder if it’d be safe to use this sharp-edged piece of tin as a makeshift sled.”
“Two inches? Let’s cancel school for the rest of the year.”
City officials may not be as confident as Northern mayors, who jet off to a Bermuda vacation, convinced their snow-removal procedures will work just fine even if they don’t personally man one of the salt trucks. But Southern cities are starting to use some creativity in how they approach the post-storm cleanup.
Mayors from Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh banded together in a common solution yesterday, turning to recently discovered real-life superheroes for help in the effort to clear their cities’ streets.
Reports earlier this month that a small group of everyday citizens in suburban Seattle have taken to wearing spandex suits and fighting crime caught the attention of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.
“There’s, like, ten of these guys. I heard about them on CNN,” Foxx told local reporters. “By day, they’re former military guys or mixed martial arts fighters. By night, they’re costumed crusaders, roaming the city and watching for car break-ins.”
Foxx referred to reports that a would-be Justice League, including characters like the Green Reaper, Captain Ozone, Thunder 88 and Phoenix Jones, were patrolling the streets of Lynnwood, Wash. Jones, for example, constructed a bullet-proof suit and a utility belt that includes a Taser and tear gas to enhance his efforts. Driven around by his girlfriend in her Kia, Jones had been working the beat for about nine months when he got the call from Foxx.
“He asked if I had ‘super hot breath’ or any other powers that might help melt the ice,” Jones said. “Not even Superman had that. What would be the point?”
Jones said he had talked with Mayor Foxx about his limitations, but the mayor insisted, even offering to pay the airfare to bring Jones and other members of the so-called Rain City Superhero Movement (RCSM) south.
“He first tried to contact us by shining a spotlight in the sky, but of course none of us could see that from 3,000 miles away,” Jones said. “Finally, he just called my cell.”
Foxx organized the effort that brought Jones and “Knight Owl” to Charlotte, “Thorn” and “Buster Doe” to Atlanta, and “Gemini” and “Penelope” to Raleigh.
“I figured, between the six of them, that at least one would have heat vision or super strength, or at least a sidekick that knew how to drive a plow,” Foxx said. “Turns out their powers are limited to stuff like kick-boxing and close-quarters combat. Still, they were definitely able to help us.”
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker was using Gemini and Penelope to help get cars started for city workers while Atlanta’s Kasim Reed put Thorn and Doe on a crew clearing restaurant parking lots.
“I wasn’t sure how much we’d be able to help but, hey, a free trip is a free trip,” Doe said during a break at the Buckhead Waffle House he was working. “I just wish I brought my backup costume because it doesn’t have a cape. That damn thing keeps getting tangled up in the wind.”
Doe said he hoped city officials would let the heroes stay a few days after their work here was completed.
“The Hampton Inn where I’m staying has a nice pool,” Doe said. “I’d love to do a little chillaxing there after we’re done.”
Charlotte Mayor Foxx thanked the RCSM for their average-human efforts, and noted that their can-do spirit was infectious.
“I’m heading out right now to clear some sidewalks outside the homeless shelter,” Foxx said. “I’m hoping I can make my lawnmower act like a snow-blower. That should work, right?”