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02 February, 2014

Snow Jam 2014

Unless you've been living under a rock you have heard of the mockery made of the city of Atlanta by ya know, everyone, including Al Roker and Jon Stewart.
"How did they no know?....... The Weather Channel is actually located IN ATLANTA!"

In our defense there was a chain reaction of poor decisions, like not pretreating the roads nor calling off school.  On top of our preexisting inability to handle situations like these.  Our city is sprawled. It's hilly.  It has a lot of really big highways. We have 3+ million people that commute in and out of the city each day. About 6 million people total.  And like 7-30 trucks equipped to handle the salting and plowing.

The snow storm came in faster and harder than anticipated the day before.  School was called off between 10am-12pm for 12pm-2pm dismissals. But it was too late. We already had an inch of snow in parts of the suburbs.

Add people who don't know how to drive in snow, 3 million cars on the road and panicked parents trying to get their kids from school.

Enter Snow Jam 2014.

My sister and I were keeping an eye on the weather. Around noon we called our husbands, who work together downtown, and told them they should probably head home soon.  At 1 the boys were trying to pack it up and head home.  Exactly the same time the schools in our county were called off.


Thankfully Eric took the train, which is about 70% of his commute.  Trains were still running normally so he made it up near us.  He hopped in his car and what normally takes 10 minutes tops, took him almost 2.5 hours.

At this point the stories of traffic jams, abandoned cars, and ice were flooding Twitter and Facebook.  Eric knew the last 4 miles of his commute was going to be horrible so he pulled into Sam's Club to use the restroom, stretch, and have a little dinner.

By now the city officials were asking people who hadn't left work not to leave. They needed to get the traffic off the roads so they could salt and plow.   Eric decided to do his part and stay at Sam's Club for a while.

Around 6 or so he walked out of Sam's Club to see traffic just as bad, if not worse.  The sun was setting, which meant the slushy roads would start icing quickly.  He grabbed a phone charger, extra gallon of milk and some queso and headed our way via an unoccupied backroad instead of his usual route / main thoroughfare.

He made it about a mile closer to home before a cop turned him around saying a particular backroad was impassible.  So he headed down a main highway only to remember how hilly and industrial it is.  Many folks and 18 wheelers were sliding up and/or down the hills.

Another hour and half had passed and he'd only made it a mile.  He got as far as the Toyota dealer where he has his car serviced and just left it there in favor of walking the last 3.5 miles or so home.

Eric was in good company.  Many folks were doing the same.  Traffic was moving so slowly and only getting worse as the temperature was rapidly dropping causing many intersections to become skating rinks.

He packed his backpack with his work computer, the milk and queso (he knows what's good for his pregnant wife) and set out for home.  Around 9:15pm he arrived home with the tale of a kind stranger shuttling walkers down the highway in front of our neighborhood on a golf cart.

Including his train ride and pitstop at Sam's Club, his 1 hour commute became an 8 hour one. And his story is tame compared to most.

I am so thankful he made it home safely.  I am so thankful for the kind people generously offering help, like our neighbor who shoveled our front walk and driveway twice to ensure our safety should Evie or I have an emergency.

Eric and I went to bed thankful for his successful journey home and for our warm beds. Many of our friends were not so lucky and spent the night in their cars or offices or businesses that opened up as shelters (shout out to Publix and Home Depot!).  Kids were stuck at schools and on school buses. And the horrors just go on!   It was a true test of Southern Hospitality and it did not disappoint.  A woman even opened up a Facebook group to pair stranded people with shelter/meals. How incredible!

The next morning was sunny and beautiful, but really cold. As in 8 degrees. Something we don't see here too often.  It kept everyone inside and off the roads.  Rescue vehicles attended to the last of those stranded, started towing abandoned vehicles and treating the roads.  By late afternoon on Wednesday people could at least get around town should they absolutely need to.

 By midday it warmed up enough to melt a good bit of ice off the roads.  We decided to bundle up and take a walk to see the beauty of winter all around us.

 Eric helped Evie walk on the ice. She thought it was really cool to walk and slide.

 We walked out to the highway in front of our neighborhood. Two or three of the three-to-four lanes were drivable, but still not worth leaving the house.

 Folks were just out walking. Some to the grocery and some just to get out, like we were, to beat cabin fever and to see the sights.
 We hoped Dunkin Donuts would be open for a snow day treat, but they, like many businesses, were closed because employees were iced in. Oh well!
 We made it home after a lovely walk and snuggled in for an afternoon of cartoons and hot chocolate.  We were so glad Eric was home with us and that he had had a safe journey home the night before.

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