Before “Atlanta” criticizes Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the meteorologists for being overly cautious with regards to snow jam 2017 let me remind you of the 2014 Snowpocalypse. I am glad GEMA did everthing they did to avoid the debacle of 2014. IF you are complaining about the waste of resources I have some words for you. BYE FELICIA
This happened to me in January 2014.
We are home. We got back about 9 hours ago. I want to thank everyone that prayed for us and commented on our posts. When we got home the first thing I did was go lay on the bed. I WAS SO TIRED.
I have NEVER experienced ANYTHING like this. To sit on an interstate for 18 hours, 18 HOURS!!! and to witness firsthand the complete and total chaos that gripped a city such as Atlanta is impossible to describe. It was literally a scene from any apocalyptic movie. You know how you watch the news and think “oh wow that’s horrible?” The TV cannot accurately depict how horrible it truly was.
I saw school and public transportation buses on the side of the road, cars spun out and sitting in ways that defy logic for an interstate. I saw throngs of young and old men, women and children walking on the interstate. I did not see a SINGLE Atlanta police car. I did not see a SINGLE H.E.R.O. truck. I saw four Ga. State Patrol cars and they had their pitch black tinted windows up offering NO assistance to ANYONE. They simply dove by everyone walking or standing on the side of the roads. I personally witnessed two men slip and fall. One fell and smacked his forehead into the concrete. I rendered first aid and then helped him to his feet.
The ENTIRE Georgia Emergency Management Agency BROKE!!!!
When I left work to go pick Syd up from school what should have taken an hour to drive 37 miles took me 18 hours. I had a half tank of gas when I left the office. I left work at 12:40 pm and arrived 1 mile from my destination at 6:45 am. I had to walk the other mile to get Sydney. For 10 of the 18 hours that I was stuck on I-75 I was 4 miles (2.6 miles from exit ramp) from my destination and watching my gas gauge dwindle from 11 gallons to 3. When I was within a half mile of Northside Drive I was down to 1 gallon of gas according to the fuel gauge. I had no choice but to become one of the thousands of vehicles PARKED on a major lane of the interstate. At 3 am I could clearly see the exit ramp sign that read ½ mile AND COULD NOT GET THERE!!! I was hurt and started crying because I was so close to my daughter and still could not reach her. I know she was ok, warm and asleep but I felt like I failed to reach her. At one point a parent from Pace Academy recognized my car and stopped. He offered me a ride but even he wasn’t sure if the exit was open.
I tried to nap but cars, buses and tractor trailers were sliding by me. Some were even attempting to drive as if the roads were completely ice free. Every half an hour Andrea would call to make sure I was ok but by 4 am the cars heat had completely dissipated and the windows started fogging and I was getting foggy too. I realized I was getting colder and started to think, “How can I stay warm?” I had my hat on, gloves and a hoodie but I had on Khaki pants, one pair of socks and sneakers. My lower torso was starting to get cold. I grabbed my laptop and turned it on; set it on my lap and let the heat sink into my pants to keep my legs as warm as possible. My calves and feet were freezing and around 5 am I started shivering. Andrea was calling to make sure I would wake up. I have to admit I missed the call twice thinking I was dreaming.
At 5:30 am I realized hypothermia was setting in. I was shivering and shaking horribly. My muscles were tightening up, my mouth was drying out. I couldn’t think straight. Survival KICKED in. I prayed to God and asked him to deliver me to that exit and then to the gas station with the one gallon of gas. I thought of Mark 6:41 as I prayed. I started the car and took off. I weaved through the dead cars, buses and trucks and hit gridlock at the exit ramp. By this time the car had warmed sufficiently to warm me so I turned the car off and waited. When the other cars started moving I put the car in neutral and used the hill to coast closer to the ramp. By this time the power brakes had locked so I had to start the car again. When I got to the ramp I saw the PROBLEM. At least 10-20 cars and trucks had slid into each other blocking the exit ramp. Again, think apocalyptic movies like Mad Maxx, War of the Worlds.
I had to maneuver between the cars in order to use the exit ramp. I pull up and cars are waiting patiently for a traffic light AND THE ROAD IS COMPLETELY ICED. I am looking at these people and I think, “Do you see NO ONE is coming?” I drive around them, run the light and the rest follow like sheep. I pull up to Publix at 6:45 and there are hundreds of cars parked everywhere, on the road, parking lot, sidewalks. I walk in and warm up. There are people asleep on the floors. Some have pulled groceries off of the bottom shelves and have made pallets on the shelves.
I started asking anyone that I saw if they had gas cans to no avail. I was out of gas and I had to MacGyver my situation so I bought cat litter, rubbing alcohol and five gallons of water. I dumped the water and took the Publix cart to the gas station, filled the jugs, and came back to the car. I poured cat litter where I was standing to prevent me from slipping and I filled the tank and went back to the station for five more gallons. (Side note. EVERYONE should have a funnel, rag and some gloves on your car.)
One of Sydney’s friends, Isabelle, and her mom saw me at Publix and offered their house to me and Sydney. Later on Izzy’s mom said, “Izzy watched people with water jugs and a gallon or two of gas and asked me, “Why don’t they get a cart like Sydney’s dad? I explained you had the gift of being book smart and street smart which is the most important “smart” there is.” Izzy will forever remember this day. After filling the car a second time a gentlemen came over and asked if he could buy the jugs. I gave him the jugs, rag and funnel. (Side note, take your gloves off and roll up your sleeves. You will spill gas all over yourself. When you are done filling your car wash your hands in rubbing alcohol to remove the gas smell from your hands, and then wash your hands normally)
I made a few calls to check on Sydney, called Andrea for traffic conditions, and checked Facebook for status updates on weather conditions. Most of you told me to stay put, got that but I was in the thick of this. I could see what the media and tv cameras weren’t going to tell you, that from my vantage point 75 south was empty. I walked a half mile to the on ramp and checked for ice. It had been sanded so I walked up the on ramp to 75 and could see the steep incline leading to Atlanta had been sanded as well.
I went back to Publix and started my trek to the teacher’s house. While I was walking to Syd I ran into Mr. Calvin, one of the grounds keepers from Pace Academy. He told me he was stuck at school so I offered him a ride, told him to meet me at Publix. "I'll be back after I get Syd."
On the way up the street Fred Assaf who is the headmaster of Pace, saw me and picked me up in a four wheeler. He took me to the teacher’s house, which was about a half mile further from the school than I realized and then brought me and Syd as close to the car as he could. When we get to the car I pull out the cat litter and start pouring it around the car’s tires and in front of the car. Syd asked what I was doing and I explained ice, traction etc. We took Mr. Calvin to the airport train station. At 2:20 we walked in the house and I went straight to bed.
I had not been to sleep for 31 hours and even though I was at Publix the only thing I ate from 3 pm yesterday afternoon until 6:45 this morning was one biscuit. I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted to get to my daughter and I was in survival mode. I don’t care how I get there but I am getting to my daughter.