Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SNOWmageddon: The Snowpocalypse of 2014

Rumor had it that it was going to snow. Ok, fine. Whatever. Didn't really phase me, other than I thought it would be a nice little feel of home for a minute.

Suffice it to say that "snow" has a completely different meaning in Georgia than in Utah and Idaho.

I noticed the first flurries at our house around 10:00 or so yesterday morning. The kids had fun watching for a minute, then the day went back to usual activities. Chris called at 11:30 to say that Georgia Tech had closed campus for the day and he was getting on the train to come home. At least it was actually snowing on campus.

It was at this point that I took this picture from our porch.

The white layer on the ground was kind of pretty, but nothing really amazing to me. I first started to catch on that this was a bigger deal than I anticipated when Chris didn't show up...and didn't show up...and didn't show up. He takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get home from when he leaves campus, and we had easily passed the hour and a half mark. I tried calling him a few times, and every time I was given an error message saying "All the circuits are busy. Please try your call again later."

He finally made it home an hour and 45 minutes after getting off the train--almost two and half hours from when he initially called to say he was on his way. There still wasn't much snow on the ground, and it was even a nice, light powder that would easily have blown off to the sides if everyone had just driven the speed limit.

Not a good day to be a student driver!

While I was still waiting for him, I had gotten an automated phone message from Jane's school. They said that, due to the weather and traffic, the buses would be 25-30 minutes late dropping kids off at their stops. Chris had only been home for a few minutes when he turned around and left again to go meet the bus. Notice how stopped the traffic was.

He finally got tired of waiting and called the school to see what the deal was--turns out the buses had yet to arrive at the school, let alone have the kids anywhere near home. Chris politely commented that it would have been really nice to inform the parents of such a detail, then he went to tell all the other parents sitting around at our bus stop that their kids weren't coming.

He came back to the apartment and we waiting for another hour or so to hear anything from the school. I was getting antsy at this point, especially given Google Traffic's assessment of the situation:

We decided that relying on the bus was not the best plan that day and determined that Chris should go get Jane. He left, yet again, armed this time with blankets and food and water. That was at about 5:00. At 6:46 I finally got this text:

I have Audrey. We're coming home.

Audrey Jane seemed rather unphased by the whole incident. They watched a few movies at school, had a snack, and then even had dinner. The REAL excitement of the day was when Jane lost her very first tooth ever. Way to add adventure to adventure, babe.

Traffic had stayed horrible. Luckily, no freeway travel was required, though Chris did get this shot while driving across the overpass.

In the end, they were safely home by 9:20--more than four hours after Chris left to get Jane, and nearly seven and a half hours since school was closed. It was a long evening. I was really glad this morning to wake up with everyone safe and warm and in their own beds. I know in that regard, we are some of the lucky ones.

I'll admit, it's been pretty easy to make fun of Atlanta and Georgians in this particular situation. Really? It was less than two inches of snow. Two inches. I was talking to my dad on the phone and we were trying to come up with something comparable where Georgians would mock Utahns complete lack of ability and utter uselessness--humidity, maybe?

I have enjoyed a few of the jokes popping up on Facebook.

We even had a few personal stabs from a man Chris taught on his mission in Norway.

I saw you talked about snow and some place shutting down because of that....this is my car I use to get to work.

...and tomorrow we'll have a big barbeque...ahh spareribs.

There is a lot of complaining and blaming going on, too--it's all someone's fault, right? Schools should have been cancelled earlier, if held at all. Businesses should have let employees leave sooner. The Governor of Georgia and mayor of Atlanta should have known better and done something to prepare better. And on and on and on.

From what I can gather, the actual crisis that led to Georgia being declared a State of Emergency came down to two main issues. One, the entire Atlanta metro area was released from work and school at the same time, putting an already commuter-heavy city ALL on the roads at once. Not the most brilliant plan. Two, it was actually pretty cold. It didn't take long for the snow to freeze onto the roads and make the entire city basically one big ice rink everywhere you went. That is legitimately difficult to drive on (especially given that no one here has snow tires or even all-weather tires). It still hasn't actually warmed up enough for the ice to melt.

I don't really care about the politics of it. I do think it was amusing that 2 inches of snow in Atlanta headlined above President Obama's State of the Union address on CNN today. That's really saying something about this little disaster. Mostly, though, I just wish everyone would quit whining about it. Yes, there are things in the system that warrant greater attention and change. Yes, some people made decisions that could have been different. But they didn't. And now we're done. 

I like the flip side to this story. There are hundreds of teachers who stayed well beyond contract hours to take care of all the kids stranded at the schools--at 10:00 last night, there were still 250 kids at Jane's school. At 2:00 in the morning, there were 15. By 8:00, still 5. And the teachers were all still there. Kudos to them on understanding what crisis requires and not abandoning those kids in favor of getting themselves home.

There was a Facebook group set up by a resident of Atlanta called SnowedOutAtlanta, where people posted where they were and what kind of help they needed, and others in the area who were able could respond and help faster than any police or ambulance could get there. People were walking the roads handing out bottles of water and sandwiches, inviting people into their homes to use the bathroom. Some delivered diapers and formula to those stranded with babies. A family in our ward was sheltered in a corporate office building overnight and given dinner, breakfast and lunch before they made it home this afternoon. I even heard one story of a lady who took about 20 kids off a stranded school bus, fed them all dinner, and let them spend the night at her house while she called all their parents to let them know they were safe. Regardless of whose fault it is or isn't, those are the stories that should be getting more attention in my opinion. Look for the helpers.

To end on a less serious note, we did let the kids out to enjoy the goodness of the snow this morning. It's not all panic and fear and abandoned cars. Sometimes it's mittens and hats and oops I forgot to put on socks.


Liz, Karl, Madison, Brooklyn and Aubrey said...

Seriously that is crazy. I'm glad Jane didn't get stranded at school all night long and that you all survived your first Georgian snow.

Rebecca said...

What a day!! This post sure takes me back. If there was even just a 10% chance of snow in the forecast in Virginia milk, eggs, and bread were cleared off the shelves and the town shut down. Then I move to Utah and life just goes on...even if there's a foot of snow! I miss snow days! I think humidity for Utahns is a great comparison to southerners and snow. Jake CAN NOT handle humidity. At all. Haha!

Enjoying all your updates! :)