Friday, January 31, 2014
Normally, the news of a possible snow storm in Atlanta makes me happy but, for some reason on Tuesday I was just not feeling it. I awoke around 3:30am to my weather radio app going off stating we were now in a Winter Storm Warning area. The night before when I had headed off to sleep the news was calling for a light dusting of snow here in our northern suburb of Atlanta ... that normally equates to a few snow flurries. Even the local weather forecasters at around 6:30am on Tuesday morning really seemed to still be downplaying any snow we were going to get. My husband headed off to work and the kids and I began our normal homeschool routine - we had no idea what was about to come.
When the snow began around 10:30am we had the typical flurries but, an hour later it was still coming down and appeared to be getting a little bit heavier. I texted with my husband - he said his office was going to release early but, still at that point later in the afternoon. I told him as long as he was on the road by 2pm I figured he would be fine. By 12:30pm when the snow began to really stick and the cars behind our home on a busy road were bumper to bumper I called my husband and told him best to get in the car and head our way. Needless to say, he never made it more than 1.5 miles from his office and even that short distance took over 3 hours. We decided his best bet was to head back to the office and wait it out or, plan to hunker down there for the night, like several of my other friends' husbands were doing at their offices. My husband was not able to actually make it back to his office by car ... he abandoned his SUV in a parking lot and hiked the rest of the way back - walking back into his office at 4:30pm.
The day went on ... my husband and I chatted several times trying to come up with a plan - he had no food, did not have any winter gear with him other than a jacket, and his office was turning off the heat (preferring people not stay there) - we found no hotel rooms within 10 miles with a vacancy - he had attempted to get food from a Publix and Costco within a block or two of his office but, both had closed. Things just seemed to go from bearable to bad quickly!
The news began reporting the horrid situation ... people were stuck everywhere ... interstates were becoming parking lots. Jackknifed semis, clogged side streets, tons of fender benders, school buses not able to get kids home.
When the kids and I sat down to an early dinner we prayed for protection for both my husband and all the people stuck in this mess.
Right after dinner I got on Facebook and found that an old friend from MOMS Club, Michelle Solictio, had begun a Facebook Group called SnowedOutAtlanta. What a miracle worker she was!! Hundreds of people at that point were offering up shelter or assistance to those trapped in the storm ... we posted offering up our home to anyone stuck on the road behind us either walking or driving. Later in the evening, we even attempted to help a man find a place for his 64 year old mother - who had been stuck for hours trying to get home. See she had remained at a local school getting all the kids on buses, so by the time she had attempted to get home it was too late. Her car had run out of gas ... her cell phone was dying ... she was on foot in East Cobb walking trying to find somewhere to go. I posted on my own personal Facebook page where she was and all of my friends in that area jumped into action offering up their homes. Thankfully, as she was walking to one of those homes her son found a friend in that area with a 4 x 4 vehicle who was able to pick her up and they decided to camp out at the Walmart just down the street.
And, then a gift from God ... a family posts on SnowedOutAtlanta they are willing to take in anyone stranded ... she describes where they are located and I realize it is just a block from my husband's office! I responded and she immediately posts her cell phone number. I call her and the first words out of this woman's mouth were "tell me what we can do". We chatted briefly and I immediately called my husband and gave him the good news ... he made contact and was off hiking to their home. This wonderful family blessed my husband more than they will ever know - they had even been through their own ordeal getting home. The husband had to abandon his own car on a major thoroughfare and hike home but, at 11:30pm they opened their door - welcomed my husband in - cooked him something to eat and gave him a guest bedroom for the night.
The next morning we used SnowedOutAtlanta to check the routes my husband could possibly take home ... the family he was staying with gave him a ride to his car and he was off, as soon as we found the roads were open. Just 24 hours after he first left the office to come home ... he walked up our street (which was still to icy to drive up)! We were so happy to see him ... so thankful to people like Michelle and the family who took him in.
I loved being on Facebook and hearing all of these similar stories ... rejoicing with families as they welcomed loved ones home ... some who had to hike 5+ miles from their abandoned cars.
Yes, there is blame to be shared and hindsight is always 20/20. We will all learn from this event - so many lessons. For now, I choose to focus on all the good that came out of that horrendous day ... and, that's all I am going to say about that!