Let me try to explain to my northern friends and family why two inches of snow completely shut down my beloved city.
1. We live in the south! We rarely get snow so we don't have snow plows, salt/sand trucks, snow tires or any other snow essentials.
2. Birmingham is mountainous. There are mountains and hills all over the city. The interstates were icy so when people would drive up the hill, they would slide back down crashing into each other.
3. I love 18 wheelers and know that they transport just about everything I use in every day life BUT most of the travel problems were caused by jackknifed 18 wheelers blocking all lanes.
4. The meteorologists (God love them) predicted a dusting of snow so kids went to school and people went to work. When it started snowing at 9 no one panicked. When it was still snowing (and sticking) at 10, people started to get a little worried. When they announced all schools were closing at exactly the same time leaving >1 million people to rush to their cars and all get on the interstate at the same time, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.
John said he would go get C so I waited at my office for another hour to let the people get off the roads. I left work at 11:15 and by that time the ramps getting on the interstates were completely frozen. I couldn't go that way so I attempted a back road. I moved about 20 feet in 45 minutes so I decided to go back to work and wait it out. There was no where else to go. John was calling me during this time because he couldn't get out of his parking deck to go get C. People were just turning off their cars and abandoning them on the roads. It was crazy! Our wonderful neighbor offered to walk to the school to pick him up. Bless her! John made it home at around 5 so she didn't have to keep him too long.
I kept an eye on the situation throughout the afternoon and realized that I would not be getting home that night. A coworker who lives in my neighborhood left a few minutes before I did. She got to the ramp right before they closed it but then she spent 13 hours on the interstate with no food, water or way to go to the bathroom. I am so thankful that I left a few minutes late!
I know why northerners are poking fun at us but try to remember that there were some very serious situations. The worst part was seeing women who had children in the car with them begging for help. There were people stranded in their cars for 24+ hours! I can't imagine being in a car with C having no food, water, diapers or anything to keep us warm for 24 hours! There were people who needed medications, who were diabetic with no food, who had elderly people with them all begging for help via facebook and twitter. SAD! At one point a guy went out to the woods, got some sticks and made a fire on the interstate for people who were stranded. They finally got buses up and down some of the interstates at around 3am to pick up stranded motorists. There were over 4500 kids in the Birmingham area stuck at schools. The teachers are the real heroes here! There were so many stories of parents walking MILES in work clothes (high heels, dress shirts and thin jackets) just to get to the school so they could stay with their kids. And this is Birmingham where no one walks anywhere. There are few sidewalks/crosswalks so people were walking on the roads.
I am still so proud to be from the South. The true southern nature came out on Tuesday and yesterday as neighbor helped neighbor. Men/women got on their 4 wheelers and spent hours in subfreezing weather to rescue people. People took strangers into their homes. At one point a news caster said, "It is safer to knock on a stranger's door than stay in your car. Please abandon your vehicle and seek shelter." It was seriously one of the strangest things I have ever seen. It looked like it was the end of the world! Here are some pictures:
|Abandoning cars and walking.|
|An 18 wheeler blocking all lanes|
|Major Highway into/out of town. Can't get up or down the mountain|
Special note: I didn't take these pictures and I don't know who did. No copyright infringement intended.
|At work - Thank goodness I had some clothes I had planned to donate in my car. I didn't have to sleep in my work clothes.|
|My sweet boy going out to play in the snow.|