Dying a slow, painful, horrible death, a Bay City, Michigan, elderly man was discovered January 17th frozen to death in his home. It happened a few days after the local utility company, Bay City Electric Light & Power installed a “limiter”–which limits the flow of electricity–outside his home for failing to pay his electric bill but neglected to show the senior citizen how it worked. Neighbors found the war veteran alone and wrapped in several layers of clothing in his bed.
Further south in Detroit, another man was found frozen solid in an abandoned warehouse. It took two days after the initial reporting for firefighters to show up and saw the man out of the ice. Authorities say he may have been there several months. And across town, scrap metal hunters found a 67 year old man sitting frozen in the front seat of his pickup truck. It’s suspected that he may have suffered a heart attack. The door was wide open and he was covered in snow.
What in the world is going on?!
Senior citizens and poor people dying all around us in the bitter cold. It’s no surprise that every winter snow and freezing temperatures are going to make it difficult to stay warm. But it’s also everyone’s responsibility to look after their neighbor, and to stop ignoring other vulnerable people in our neighborhoods and near our jobs.
It’s unconscionable that it takes days for us to notice that something may be wrong with our neighbors. Why didn’t someone check out sooner the man who regularly sits in his chair by the window? Why didn’t neighbors go see why that pickup truck door was open day and night?
It’s justifiably right to blame the utility companies for shutoffs, hospitals and clinics for lack of affordable access, and city officials for lack of low-income housing, but what about us? What are we responsible for?
It seems at minimum, we have a responsibility to check on and assist as best we can the vulnerable people around us: the seniors who live next door, the poor women and children across the street, the homeless man on the way to work. Yes, times are hard for all of us but they’re harder still for others.
The latest ice storm in the midwestern and eastern states may prevent electricity restoration until mid February. Let’s start figuring out what we can do to prevent the loss of anymore precious lives.
(Image from Associated Press)