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February 2014 - Tianna Holley | Tianna Holley

Atlanta Snow & Ice Storms of 2014

Posted by on Feb 19, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Here’s the fourth post in the Northern vs. Southern Snow Blizzards Series. I’ve already told you about my experiences with the 2010 and 2011 heavy snows of New Jersey and the New York City snow blizzard of 2010. Today I’m sharing and rating my experience with the Atlanta snow and ice storms of 2014, and I’m hoping we are done with the snow for this year. Atlanta has seen enough of it.

The first snow came in January, and everyone all over the world got to see the mess on our roads. Wrecks were everywhere, cars were abandoned, people were stranded on the roads, work, and schools. A woman even had a baby in her car. It was a complete nightmare for many people.

How can such a small amount of snow cause so much damage, and who should take the blame? Well, here’s what happened at my home. I checked the weather the night before it began to snow, and it showed snow showers starting at noon. When I got up to get my children ready for school, I checked the weather again, and it had changed to snow showers starting at 9:00 in the morning. Although some of the schools in the area decided to shut down, ours did not, and I was surprised by this. However, I sent my children off to school, even though I disagreed with the decision.

I then told my husband to be sure to watch the weather so that he could leave the office if it got bad. He responded by making fun of me, saying I was overreacting. I reminded him that the weather forecast was for snow showers, not light flurries, and we were back in the South. Snow is different here than in the North.

When I walked outside at 10:00 that morning, the snow had begun, and it was heavy. I knew then it would stick and cause trouble. I continued with my work, and checked my email often, waiting to hear from the school board.

My husband left work at 12:00 and even stopped by the grocery store on the way home. We sat by the fireplace talking and at around 1:15, I got an email from the school saying it would close at regular time, which greatly surprised me. However, at 1:45 my oldest daughter called from school to let me know they were closing. I could hear the announcement over the intercom. My husband then drove to the bus stop at the corner of our neighborhood, and he immediately knew we had a problem. The road leading into our neighborhood was jam-packed both ways, which is something we’ve never seen before. We realized everyone was trying to get home at the exact same time, which meant the buses could not get to the schools. It also meant salt trucks could not do their jobs.

While all the cars were at a standstill on the roads, the temperature dropped, and ice started forming on the roads. The Atlanta area is not exactly flat, and there are many hills, which made things more difficult with the ice.

My husband soon came home telling me everyone was leaving their cars on the side of the roads and in our neighborhood so they could walk home. He even lent his gloves to a man having to walk three miles while carrying a briefcase. At this time, it was about 3:00, and only a few buses had even made it to one of the schools. My husband and I knew we had a problem when it came to getting our kids from two different schools.

I had two children in the elementary school and one in the middle school. One of our neighbors called to let me know her husband was on his way to the elementary school, and he could pick up my two. However, an hour later, he was still stuck in traffic. The school is normally less than a ten minute drive.

That’s when my husband decided he would try to get to the school by driving a different route. However, when I called another neighbor and offered to pick up her boys from both schools, she told me she was near one of the schools and could pick up my daughter from the middle school. That same neighbor arrived at the elementary school. She then walked through the park to get to the middle school, where she had to climb over a fence to get to the school. She then took three children from that school, and they walked through the park. (The school unlocked the gate, so she didn’t have to climb the fence again. I’ll also add that my neighbor tied Target bags over her cute shoes to protect them in the snow. She was styling!) Once back at the elementary school, she picked up two more kids and loaded her vehicle for the ride home. By this time, my other two children were already picked up by the other neighbor.

Now the problem was getting back home. Cars were parked everywhere, and people were still wrecking. The two hills leading to our neighborhood were too difficult for many cars. In the end, my two youngest children were dropped off by one neighbor, but the woman with the most children had to park and walk. Another neighbor drove to pick them up at the top of the hill, and all the middle schoolers and mom crammed into the car and made it safely to our neighborhood. I forgot the exact time, but I believe it was around 7:00 when they all made it home.

One of my other neighbors called around that time. She was still waiting on the buses for her two children. She had one at the elementary school and another at the high school. Luckily, their dad was able to get to them that evening.

The elementary school sent many emails informing us how things were going for them. Although many schools in the area had children stay the night, the police rescued the mom of the last student stranded at the elementary school. He then picked up the student and got them both safely home around 3:00 in the morning. The staff that stayed at the school with their own children, slept there.

The children that made it home on the few buses that were able to get to them had their own problems. It seems while some of the buses were able to drop off the kids, it did not mean the parents would make it home to them. The police had to make rounds checking on children left to themselves for the night while their parents were stranded somewhere else.

Who was to blame for this mess? While everyone was pointing fingers at the governor and mayor and they were pointing fingers at the weather men, I believe it’s all our fault, even mine. Yes, the mayor, governor, and school boards made big mistakes, really big. (The weather men are blameless. It clearly stated the snow would be heavy.) I knew the snow was heavy, yet I trusted the schools to get my children to me. I should have went to get them earlier that day, as did some of the other parents. I chose to ignore a problem when I knew it was there.

I’d say we all learned a lot from this experience. In fact, when we got another snow/ice storm two weeks later, everything was different. The city completely shut down in advance, and all the grocery stores were wiped clean of most of their food. Milk and bread were completely off the shelves. Everyone stayed home from work and school for almost the entire week. The governor and mayor called for a crisis before it even began, and the school board called us continuously with the status of closings. They went from one extreme to the other.

Where would I rate this disaster on my list of the four snows? Hmm, that’s a tough question. Although this experience was a complete disaster, it did not affect me too much. I know it could have easily been a lot worse if my husband had left an hour later than he did or if he had worked downtown the day of the first storm. This could easily be number one on my list if I were one of the many people I know that was stranded all night in their cars. However, the worst problem for me was caused by the second ice storm. My children were sick of snow within the first hour of play, and they never went back outside. I was left with all of my children  stuck in the house with cabin fever, and I’m on a deadline with my editor. My husband worked from the basement, and I worked in my bedroom. It was hard trying to get work done with the house full.

I’m going to have to say this ranks as the second problematic snow for me. With New Jersey snows being third and New York being fourth, that means my next posting in this series will describe my true worst experience, a family ski trip. Stay tuned, and don’t miss it.

Quick update:  My oldest daughter learned that poison ivy does not die in the winter. While playing in the snow with her friends, she rolled into the edge of the woods and is the only person I know to get a bad case of poison ivy during the winter. Southern living 🙂

This is the only picture I took this year of the big Atlanta snow/ice storms. Shameful, I know. I’ve decided to buy snow sleds so maybe we’ll get out next time. We really aren’t into cold weather though. I took this picture while inside. I’ve been hibernating this year. As I type this, I’m on my back porch. Last week was snow and ice, and this week it’s in the upper sixties. That is what I love about the South. The cold doesn’t stay too long.

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New York City Snow Blizzard of 2010

Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This is the third post in the Northern vs. Southern Snow Blizzards Series. In my last post, I shared my adventure of the 2010 and 2011 Heavy Snows of New Jersey. While living there, we decided to go to New York City shortly after Christmas. We bought tickets to see the Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall and made hotel reservations months in advance. Plans were made, and we were ready.

Then came the news. A heavy snow blizzard was coming on the very day we planned to travel. My husband’s immediate response was to cancel the vacation, and I agreed with him until we found out we would not get a refund for the tickets from the Radio City Music Hall. They have a no-refund policy.

Well, that was over $600. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me just to throw away that amount of money. I looked at my husband and told him we were still going. He responded by calling our friends that now live in North Carolina, but they are from New York. Our friends both agreed with Daryl that we should not make the attempt.

This a good time for me to let you all know that I can be very strong-willed, even been called stubborn by some (maybe many). I looked at my dear husband and said, “We’re getting into that city before the storm comes, so finish packing.”

I must say that my husband knows me well enough to know when I’m in my stubborn mode, for he did not argue. Instead, he let out a long sigh and informed me that if we were going to leave the house, he would be filling our vehicle with food and blankets in case we got caught in the blizzard with three small children.

Now, before you judge me for taking three small children out into bad weather, let me tell you that my plan was solid. Travel to a train station in New Jersey and get into New York City before the blizzard hit. It was all about timing, and I was very optimistic.

We packed heavy clothing and made it to the train station just in time. Our train was one of the last ones to make it into the city. Then we took a taxi to our hotel before doing some walking. At first, we were able to walk in the snow, but after dinner we had to take shelter in our hotel room. The snow was falling too hard. We had to look down while walking, because it slammed into our eyes.

That night it snowed hard, and the sound of thunder was constant. However, we were safe and sound in our hotel room. My plan had worked, and I felt good about it.

By morning the snow had stopped, and we were able to walk around the city. While eating breakfast, my young daughter recognized someone in the restaurant she knew. It seems we weren’t the only ones that had been determined to make it into the city before the blizzard came.

Snow was everywhere, and although some of the streets had been plowed, few cars were on them. The city was completely shut in. I spoke to a man working at a deli that lived outside the city. He was staying with some relatives until he could get back home. People could not get into the city, and no one could get out. All transportation had shut down. Walking was the only transport, and the city was almost void of tourists. The usual crowded streets had few people on them.

When we saw the Rockettes, almost all the seats were empty. I felt bad for a family I saw on the news. The father had spent all of their Christmas money to take his many teenage daughters and wife to New York City. He even bought tickets to see the Rockettes, and they lived at the airport for days, hoping the flights would run again. By the time flights were going again, it was time for his girls to go back to school. They were just one family of many that had spent a lot of money on a vacation, only to have it ruined by the blizzard.

We walked the snow-shoveled streets, saw many places, and even went ice skating in Central Park. We also took a very cold ferry ride to see the Statue of Liberty.

So where would I rate this blizzard out of the four in the comparison? This blizzard gave us the least amount of trouble. Although it was a disaster for many, we turned it into an adventure and took the risk. I can easily see the positive in that the city was nearly empty. The negatives were that the snow turned to slush where people walked, and every time we crossed a street, we had to step into those dirty puddles of slush.

Our biggest problem was the cold. It was freezing! Although we were completely bundled up (even our faces), we were never warm while outside. The wind was strong, and the cold was harsh. If you read my last post  on the New Jersey blizzards, you learned that cold is my kryptonite. I’m a true southerner from the beach.

Stay tuned for my next post on the 2014 snow in Atlanta. We’re going through our second round of snow now, and all the schools and most businesses are closed again.

In this photo, we were rushing back to our hotel. The wind was blowing the snow into our eyes, and we were forced to look down while walking.

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Cars were completely covered, and people had to shovel them free. All of the walkways were kept clean for people to walk.

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Most of the streets were a mess in the first few days.

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We were FREEZING on this ferry ride.

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2010 & 2011 Heavy Snows of New Jersey/Second Post in the Northern vs. Southern Snow Blizzards

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Here’s the second post in the Northern vs. Southern Snow Blizzards Series, where I’ll be sharing with you my experience with the heavy snows of 2010 and 2011 in New Jersey. At that time I lived in the southern part of New Jersey, about twenty minutes from Philadelphia. Our realtor assured us that area did not see much snow, and it was not a big problem for them.  However, we happened to move there when they got a historical amount of snow. After our move back to the South, their winters went back to normal, and I’m somewhat led to believe the heavy snow was just one of our curses we experienced those two years. (There were many.)

Our first experience came a week before we moved, when our painter called to let me know our driveway was covered in snow, and his crew could not get to the house. He called me again later that day to let me know they had shoveled our long driveway. They were on a tight schedule, and he did not want to get behind.

About two weeks after we moved, we received a few inches of snow over the weekend.  My husband and teenage son spent an entire day shoveling our driveway, and it did take long for us to regret buying a house with a long driveway.

When Monday came around, everyone went to work and school. The picture below shows my youngest son and dog Gigi. See how small Gigi is? Well, we quickly learned, she did not like our northern move.

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A week after that snow, this happened:

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Once again, my husband and teenage son spent an entire day shoveling snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever embraced being a female as much as I did that day. When my dear hubby suggested I pick up a shovel also, I reminded him I was a woman raised on the beach. I was not a snow bunny when he married me, and I never wanted to be a snow bunny.

In my lifetime, I have enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, shrimping, and all sorts of outdoor activities, but going outside in this amount of snow is beyond my capabilities. In fact, I would rather be drenched in sweat and surrounded by yellow flies, sand gnats, mosquitoes, and alligators than go outside in this much snow. And that says a lot!

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Most of our neighbors had snow blowers, and I got the impression that the men enjoyed what they were doing, as if they were happy they got to use their expensive toy. It was a rare treat for them.

Think this amount of snow kept everyone from going to work? No, it did not! Nothing shut down. Unlike the South where everything comes to a complete halt, New Jersey keeps on going. The snow plows quickly cleared the roads, and life went on. No snow holiday. Honestly, I was highly surprised.

When I got up the next morning, I opened the door to take Gigi out, and she took one look at the amount of snow and began to shake uncontrollably. I let out a defeated sigh and ran upstairs to change out of my pajamas and into some warm clothing and boots. I then shoveled a small, grassy area for her to go potty. Once finished, I picked her up and walked outside. She responded by relieving herself all over me.

Needless to say, I was not happy with our move. However, over time we learned to adjust. My husband soon learned to park at the very end of the driveway before the snow came so that he could quickly shovel a small path to his truck to drive to work. Remember, nothing shuts down. We also learned that you could pay a snow plow $75 to quickly plow a long driveway (no more shoveling). Gigi also got used to running to a clear spot to do her business.

I also learned how to drive in a snow storm while there. Although I had been around snow for many years, my husband never trusted his beach girl to drive any time it snowed. He was out of the country on a business trip during one of the blizzards, and I was caught in it. It took me many hours to get home, and I passed many wrecks. Once home, I was quite pleased with myself, and I taunted my husband on his Facebook page for never teaching me how to drive in the snow. You see, I don’t remember why, but I was in his truck the day of the blizzard (which was a good thing). It also meant that it would have been his vehicle damaged if I had wrecked. (Fitting, since he never taught me to drive in the snow because of his lack of faith in my driving capabilities.)

So where does this rank out of the four blizzards I listed in my first post? I would put this at number three on the list for being the most problematic. Yes, the snow was extreme, but my children were homeschooled. I stayed inside for most of it, and New Jersey seemed to always be prepared for it. If this were a ranking on how miserable I was because of the cold, I would list it as number one, because it was beyond cold living in New Jersey. Unlike the South, where you get a mix of cold and warm days during the winter, it’s just cold there.

The cold is different there also. It can be in the fifties in the South, and yet it’s somewhat warm because of the sun. I quickly learned that even in the sixties, I froze while living in the North. There was no sun, and it was windy. I had to learn how to read their weather. In the South, I can get by with a hoody when it’s in the fifties. Not so while living in the North. I’d have to wear a big, puffy coat and gloves, and I’d still be freezing. There is an amazing difference when it comes to dealing with lack of sun and lots of wind.

I have memories of my husband and I freezing while watching my son at a soccer game. We both had big coats, gloves, hats, boots, and we were wrapped in a blanket, yet we were freezing and miserable the entire game. I just wanted a hot bath so bad.

So, if you are from the North, and you think I’m a weakling, I’ll give you that. Cold is my kryptonite! Stay tuned for the next post in the series on the blizzard of 2010 that shut down New York City. You’ll be surprised at the ranking I’m giving it for being the most bothersome for me.

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