If you don’t know about our little ‘snow event’ in the ATL (formerly known as Hotlanta- new name pending) you must be living under a rock. Or not residing in America, although I know it has hit the news internationally as several Aussie friends have posted screen shots from the local news to my Facebook wall.
There will be many stories written, because there are so many to tell. It was almost the perfect clusterf#ck*.
Atlanta a city of endless suburban sprawl, 6 million residents, no public transport system to suburbia, no winterization of roads or cars (because it NEVER** snows) , sends EVERYONE – schools, businesses and government employees, home the same 30 minute time slot on a road system that already has one of the worst reputations in the country, experiences snow that drops 2-3 inches everywhere in below freezing conditions and pretty much turns immediately to ice on the roadways.
The result – mayhem, that included too many car accidents to count, children stranded overnight on school busses and in schools, people sheltering in service stations, supermarkets, cars and homes of friends and strangers, commutes of up to 18 hours and many abandoned vehicles, giving the producers of the Walking Dead and anyone planning on filming the next post apocalyptic movie some free perfectly staged shots.
When the lady slammed into the back of my car after failing to stop on ice that was barely there, a mere 20 minutes after it had started snowing and 200 metres from home (after I had taken a cheeky trip to the supermarket less than a mile away to stock up for Snowpocalypse) I called my husband perched in his office watching car accidents happen out the window and told him to not come home. Stay in the office overnight, we didn’t need two damaged cars, or worse.
It was then that our neighbourhood sprang into action. Our ‘hood that I often make fun of for it’s Home Owners Association rules and regulations, welcome cookies and being more manicured than Wisteria Lane amongst other things is really a genuine caring community that dived head first into assistance mode.
There are many amazing stories from all over Atlanta, these are a few from our ‘hood.
At least 20 people stopped to offer assistance to the young lady and myself who were perched in our cars precariously close to the neighborhood entrance. After being able to get off the main road, her car was unable to be driven – cue neighbours walking down the hill and pushing her car deep into our ‘hood for safety purposes.
Gee, you’ve got a lot of friends she said.
Just a lot of super friendly, helpful neighbours I replied.
One of the car pushers insisted on waiting with me, until the Police had established due to a State of Emergency they wouldn’t be coming and we had concluded Insurance company reporting and other formalities. Thank you again Adam.
Just a little bit later when it became clear the hill outside our enclave was becoming impassable they went out by foot to help push cars and offer assistance to weary drivers deciding it was too late, dark and icy to get home.
Other’s with 4×4’s were heading out into the night to rescue those abandoning cars and bringing them home over the icy roads.
Our neighbourhood clubhouse, generally the location of birthday parties, book
club and Bunko nights was thrown open to keep stranded motorists warm, dry and safe. There was a constant stream of people arriving with sleeping bags, blankets, food, drinks and toiletries to make those inside comfortable for the duration.
When it appeared there may be excess people to couches they just started taking them to their houses – total strangers, come on over. It was happening all over Atlanta, quite amazing.
The next morning people were quickly out to the road to find anyone newly stuck or who may have arrived later and direct them inside for bathroom relief, steaming coffee and breakfast casseroles.***
One woman had high heels on and didn’t want to leave the car for fear of slipping on the ice. No problem, the guy hiked home and took a pair of his wife’s flats back to the car and escorted her safely down the hill. S is now down a pair of shoes but to a great cause!
I was out taking photos and an acquaintance was walking past checking on her husband’s car. We had just heard one of our neighbours, with three under 5 and a husband away was nearly out of formula for her baby, she offered as it was on her way, to go and check if the supermarket was open and buy the formula (if not much left) and put it behind the counter or bring it back. For someone she didn’t even know.
Sometime mid afternoon my husband arrived home from a night on the office floor, no couches there either, and transitioned directly into a snowball fight with the kids.
Later that day the same neighbour, now with a fed baby, accidentally locked herself out of the house while stepping out to check on her bigger boys and their snow activities. Cue operation house break. I now know a local B&E team that includes an antipodean 7 year old who can make the climb in the window if you need. Doing her heritage proud declared another cheeky bystander. (I do have a photo but I don’t want to give away the identities or the point of entry)
The day was winding down and we just had one guest left at the clubhouse who was waiting for her husband to pick her up. She told us his name was Leonardo Di Caprio. We felt it was unlikely there was more than one around. Further investigation discovered that while she had been taking shelter with us during the day, she wasn’t really sure where she was from or where she should be going. Earlier conversations had been put down to extreme tiredness and disorientation from being overnight in her car. A group of ladies stayed with her for a little while and attempted to calmly get some more information that could lead us to calling someone who would be missing her. Sadly, we were unable to so we called for professional assistance and the excellent first responder teams arrived and took her to at least overnight safety in hospital. I have been wondering about her all day. I hope she and her family have been reunited.
The end result of such an action packed 36 hour period can surely only be a wine party at someone’s house, so when the Bus Mother’s WhatsApp group buzzed with such an invitation that included hot chocolate for the under 21’s we were quick to accept. About 10 bottles of wine, several bottles of beer later it was time for bed which I gratefully crawled into.
I was just having a warm and fuzzy feeling about our caring and sharing neighbourhood when they went and cancelled school again tomorrow. Safety first I guess…….
*technical term for when many things go wrong at once
**never being once every two to three years where anything hits the ground and sticks
***so much more on the American love of casseroles later