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Snow Angels to the Rescue!

Snow-Angels

My husband just came back inside after he, some of our neighbors and a few good Samaritans helped no fewer than 8 cars and trucks out of the ice/snow they’d become stuck in on the highway that runs in front of our home. They’d push or pull one out, and someone else would get stuck.  He carried out our entire stash of cat litter and a couple of shovels, while our neighbors came out with their backhoe to pull cars off of the ice. It was quite a circus for a little while.

We live in the Atlanta area where, as many of you know, got some snow yesterday. We don’t really know how to do snow, nor do we have much opportunity to practice what to do when it snows.  This became abundantly clear when the Atlanta Metro area became one large parking lot early yesterday afternoon. Atlanta, hub to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, once again found itself unprepared to deal with the chaos — despite assurances that city officials had learned their lessons from a 2011 ice storm that brought the city to its knees.

Tractor trailers were jack-knifed all over (roads were not pre-treated) and all lanes shut down for everyone. As minutes turned to hours and it became evident that no one was going anywhere, motorists began abandoning their vehicles and set out on foot to find shelter for the night. Others who couldn’t make the trek in the snow – elderly, ill, those with small children, or even just alone and afraid to leave their car – stayed on the highways that circle and crisscross Atlanta in the 15 degree weather.  Also, even though most schools dismissed early, lots of school buses full of children were stranded among them.

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Snow Gridlock

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(Photo Source: 11alive.com traffic camera)

Well, many terrible, uncomfortable and frightening things can happen in situations like this.  My greatest fear – no bathroom. People on the roads this day, however, were running out of gas, had no food, no medicine, no diapers, no blankets, cell phone batteries died, no water, the list goes on and on.  Desperate calls and texts went out to loved ones. More often than not, family members were rendered helpless. One woman even had a baby on the highway because she couldn’t get to the hospital.

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Not only were emergency personnel not prepared for this, there certainly weren’t enough of them!  Enter our Snow Angels. Many of the most unlikely of businesses opened their doors for the night to to provide shelter to those who were stuck. People were allowed to sleep on the aisles of CVS, Target, Kroger, Publix and Home Depot. Waffle House and Chick-Fil-A provided food. Churches opened warming centers and had hot coffee, sandwiches and cots.

CVS sleeping

Publix sleeping

Magically, Facebook groups organized to rally help for friends and family who were stranded. People took to social media such as Facebook to appeal for overnight shelter — or to offer guest rooms, fire stations, churches and park gymnasiums to those needing a warm place to stay after spending hours in their cars.

The Snow Angels appeared in many forms:

–          A minister scooped up a wheelchair from his church, drove to a highway exit and rolled it down the highway, through the snow and ice, to someone’s elderly mother who couldn’t walk. He pushed her back up the exit ramp to his car and took her to a safe place.

–          Lots of good Samaritans, including a group of college students, purchased water, snacks, and hand warmers and walked up and down the highway to hand them out to those in need.

–          A family met a diabetic man with insulin and food.

–          Many, many folks opened their homes to anyone who needed them.  Phones numbers – actual phone numbers – were posted on Facebook. On Facebook. “Call us. We’ll answer the phone all night.” “Contact me if you need a place to crash. I have food and a big dog to warm you up.” “I have a 4×4 Jeep and will come get you. Call me with your location.”

–  A young woman put on her boots and walked nearly a mile to bring baby food and blankets to a single mother and her baby sitting in their van in a mall parking lot.

– Messages were relayed between those in need and those on the road who were coming to their aid.

– The wife of a stranded school bus driver asked for help and, within minutes, a group of moms were mobilized and headed his way with food, blankets and water for the kids on his bus.

“I want to give many thanks, too my Angel Katie!!! She rescued me as I was attempting to walk 3 miles home. She was at a stop sign and helped me get across the ice and drove me all the way home. I spent the night in my car. My angel, Katie arrived at the perfect time. Thanks, Katie I will always remember you!!!!!”

– Even this afternoon- 24 hours later – people kindly continued to deliver water and food to those still waiting in their cars, helped others who were stranded away from home to find rides and medication, and motorists were leaving cases of oranges and water on the dividing wall for the hundreds of folks still trapped.

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“Guys, I still have friends with open homes in several areas if you know anyone needing out of the cold.”

“We are in a White Jeep patrolling Fairburn Road and Lee Road. With food and water. We are gladly giving people a ride in the general area. Call 404 xxx xxxx for food or assistance.”

“My husband just restocked his messenger bag with water and snacks and is walking i20 W from Fulton Industrial to Six Flags Pkwy. Flag him down if you are in need. He is tall, bearded and wearing a grey striped knit cap. Thank you to the guy who gave him $10 to go back to the store to get more supplies.”

”Help available in N.Roswell – Hwy 92/Crossville Rd near Crabapple Rd. If you need shelter, a phone, drinks or food I’ll walk to you!”

“If YOU or SOMEBODY you know need help get the car home, let me know. I can help with dead batteries, give a ride, go get gas for ya or anything to help you get the vehicle off the road. I am driving around GA between exit 10 and 4. Txt me ur location 770-xxx-xxxx.”

“I’m now walking with friend toward paces ferry exit off 285 with 2 gallons water, apples and Larabars. Wearing blue fleece white hat. Wave if you’re hungry /thirsty.”

”Shelter here at Abernathy. Children welcome. Food, beds, showers/baths, cell phone recharge – whatever you need.”

“Kroger on Cascade. BLESS YOU! They are feeding the stranded kids from bus #502 as we speak.”

Posts like this go on and on. It’s overwhelming and humbling. I’m so impressed at how everyone pulled together and continue to support each other. If there was a bright spot in the epic gridlock, it was the Southern-style graciousness. Strangers opened up their homes, volunteers served coffee and snacks to the traffic-bound, and school-bound principals played bingo and other games with stranded students to while away the time.

I’m not always proud about living in Atlanta, but today I am.