Last Tuesday, a winter storm made its way to the Deep South and paralyzed cities like Atlanta and Birmingham for 30 hours. Atlanta found itself woefully underprepared when hundreds of businesses and school systems closed at nearly the same time. Motorists became stranded on crowded interstates as commutes ground to a halt. My own family experienced the harrowing “winter hell” – to use the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s term. My cousin had to spend the night in his truck in conditions so cold that the screen on his phone shattered, and my sister-in-law ventured out Wednesday morning to encounter other drivers stuck in a day’s worth of traffic.
There’s plenty of frustration all over Atlanta as a result of the storm. Abandoned cars sat for over a day, out of gas and left behind on highways and side streets alike. Students spent the night at schools when school systems chose not to allow buses out in the worsening conditions. City and state officials have played a sort of blame game (even as Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed whizzed past jammed motorists in the emergency lane en route to a Weather Channel interview), and citizens, members of the media, and officials at all levels of government struggle to figure out what went wrong. Some conspiracy nuts have mused that the government created a fake snowstorm to paralyze the South.
While the South revels in its frustrations with the storm and other areas of the country have some fun at our expense, Snowmageddon 2014 has given us some shining examples of the better side of human nature. Southerners cared for each other in the freezing cold, some of them in clever and ingenious ways.