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.