“Snowmageddon” brought this alumnus snow, fire and a bundle
February 6th, 2014
A few weeks ago Brian Greenberg (’00) of Reston, Va., took me up on my invitation to the Wake Forest University Alumni Council to send me story ideas. “I have a story for you,” he said on the phone, to put it mildly.
The senior manager at Deloitte Consulting then recounted for me how on one of the most important nights of his life, “Snowmaggedon” — the winter blizzard of 2010 — served up a tale of crazy mishaps and downright woe. It seemed to me Brian could write the story better than anyone else (except perhaps his wife, Elizabeth), and so I invited him to share it. Spoiler alert: The tale, or shall we call it the quest?, has a triumphant ending. Cue the kazoos and party hats. Here’s Brian:
Did Wake Forest prepare you for every possibility? How can you be so sure, especially when you cannot control all of the variables?
As we celebrate my son’s birthday today with winter storms building strength out West, I cannot help but reflect back on my child’s highly unusual birth four years ago and how it went anything but the way I had imagined. My wife had the misfortune of being nine months pregnant when one of the worst storms in Washington, D.C. — “Snowmageddon” — was barreling down on us.
She was two days overdue when we visited the doctor’s office, just as the snow started to fall. Her regular OB/GYN was not available that day, so another doctor examined her and scheduled us for the hospital for the following week. We were uneasy with this decision and asked about our options and any precautions we should take, but we were rushed out of the office and told not to worry. (I figure the staff wanted to head home before the snowstorm got worse. Who can blame them?) We went home and tried to relax, but we both felt uneasy as the snow started piling up. Our bags were packed and in the car. We thought we were ready. In our worst nightmares, we could not have predicted just how wild the night was going to get!
At 3 a.m. my wife woke me up and told me she was having contractions. My heart sank when I looked outside and saw more than 2 feet of snow in the driveway. We called the doctors and emergency personnel and were told we had time and the access to get to the hospital safely. After a couple of hours of shoveling, I wasn’t so sure we could even get out of our driveway. Thankfully I saw my first sign of immediate help — a snowplow. The unfortunate part was that he was stuck in a snow drift, and I had to help dig him out.
Once he was able to clear the road a bit, my wife and I piled in our SUV for the 15-minute drive to the hospital. Unfortunately, across the road lay three huge evergreen trees that had fallen like dominos. Lacking options, we decided to press on. Somewhat remarkably, we cleared the first two trees, but after that everything went haywire. The third tree was much bigger than we thought; its branches engulfed our car and wrapped around our axle.
I worked furiously to break us free with my shovel, but it was no use. We called 911 and the police arrived shortly. They couldn’t help. They then enlisted the fire and rescue unit. I can vividly recall the unit’s arrival, especially a lone fireman. He freed our car with a large chainsaw. I’ve never been more grateful to receive a helping hand — even though sparks flew as he accidentally slashed a gaping hole in the side of our SUV. Needless to say, it was a small price to pay to get us free and on our way.
The emergency medical technicians checked on my wife, and she appeared to be doing well though time was of the essence. We decided to go to the closest hospital with one small hiccup along the way: we had to extinguish a burning tree limb from under my car. An amazing EMT named David held my wife’s hand in the ambulance the whole way to the hospital and kept her calm by telling her stories about his son, Chase. When we arrived at the hospital, my wife was in horrible pain, her head filled with many thoughts and with certainty about only one thing. Our son’s name was going to be Chase David Greenberg. Chase was born shortly after that but only after the hospital found a doctor who could make it through the snow, and Chase has been a healthy and happy Demon Deacon fan ever since.
We thank God every day for the miracle of our son’s birth that snowy morning, because what we didn’t know was that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his neck in the womb. If we hadn’t made it to the hospital in the time we did, he would not have survived. Nothing went the way we had planned, but when I think about Chase growing up — and hopefully going to Wake Forest someday — I know a couple of things for sure. Preparation is key, but resourcefulness and calmness under pressure get you to the finish line. (Wake Forest certainly helped me in all of these respects.) And, there are a lot of volunteers who help people every day; we must pay it forward every chance we get.
Brian was busy running errands when I called him this morning. It’s Chase’s birthday, after all, and there is much to celebrate — with or without 34 inches of snow. Happy birthday, Chase.