Mother Nature 1 – The South 0

People wonder how and why a 2 inch snowfall can paralyze a city and shut it down for days.  Those of us who have lived our lives in the South don’t have to wonder.  It all boils down to a few reasons, and these incidents will continue to happen regardless to what kind of planning is done beforehand.

This latest one is one of the worst that I can recall as long as I have lived.  I’ve seen ice storms that shut down highways and roads for days.  I’ve seen cars and trucks stranded because of wrecks and being stuck.  This is the first time, however, that I can recall kids having to spend the night at school because they couldn’t get home.

I’m not that old, but I remember that anytime weather was a threat, the school board got us the hell out of school and made sure we got home before the weather hit.  What in the hell were the decision makers thinking where you end up with thousands of kids having to spend the night at school?  It wasn’t just an Atlanta thing either, there were kids in Alabama who were stuck in school as well.

“We have had students, unfortunately, stuck on buses all night,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa. “The National Guard and other state and local officials have been helping us escort buses out of those situations.”

Officials say all students have now been safely removed from stranded buses.

Many of the students stuck on buses were taken back to school, where they spent the night. Atlanta Public Schools confirmed to ABC News that several hundred students are “sheltered in place” at nine schools this morning.

More than 600 students remained in Marietta, Cobb County schools overnight.

Another 1,400 students slept in schools in Jefferson County, Ala., overnight, according to Bob Ammons with Alabama Emergency Management, while nearly 2,000 students camped out in Shelby County schools.

An additional 4,500 students remain at schools in Hoover, Ala.

One argument is that, if preparations are made ahead of time and nothing happens, then the authorities have to answer questions about crying wolf or something.  I’d much rather have the school system shut down with nothing happening as opposed to having kids stuck on buses in the middle of traffic jams.

There are those here who want to blame Gov. Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed for what happened in Atlanta, but they are not the ones to blame.  Why in the hell did everyone decide to go home all at one time?  Business owners, employers, and such should have taken the weather warnings seriously.  After all, the warnings were sounded on Sunday, long before the storm hit.  The forecast kept changing and including more and more of the metro Atlanta area.  When the weather people tell you it’s going to be bad, then it’s usually going to be bad.  Their equipment and computers are much, much more advanced and better than they used to be.

I would say that I hope lessons are learned from this, but I know better.  After living in the South for 40 years, I know the same thing will happen when the next major ice storm hits.  Like always, I’ll make sure to have myself at home and off the road in plenty of time so I can get my popcorn ready to watch the slow motion train wreck unfold right before my eyes.  The only difference is that now I get to watch it in High Def thanks to DirecTV.

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9 thoughts on “Mother Nature 1 – The South 0

  1. Brosephus, the only question one can ask is, “what were they thinking?!!?” The answer is that they were not thinking! I remember Snow Jam ’80 something. The thing that saved us, at least in Cobb County, is that it was a teacher work day, so the kids were not in school.


  2. As mentioned, this thing was pretty much a carbon copy of 1982. That storm also hit midday, after reports that it had already hit Birmingham. There’s probably thousands of people to blame for this, a lot of bad decisions that snowballed (pardon the pun). According to things I heard, schools didn’t let out until long after it had started snowing. I agree they probably shouldn’t have been there anyway but as soon as it started to snow, they should’ve known it was time to go to plan B.

    We weren’t supposed to get anything up here but late morning it started snowing, so I just adjusted accordingly. I think country folks deal with the weather a little better because we live closer to the land, in one sense, and are a little more used to dealing with nature’s ups and downs. (Up here we still have dirt roads, so school gets canceled quicker because buses don’t well on muddy roads).

    You are right that if nothing happened, there would’ve been a lot of people upset about that, too. Moral of the story is you’re going to make folks mad no matter what you do, so just do what needs to be done and let ’em get mad. Better pissed off than pissed on, as they say.

    About that ’82 storm, a couple years later (not sure the year) there was another storm that was supposed to hit, so they took all the precautions they should’ve taken in ’82 and got pillared for that, too, when the storm failed to show.

    One thing did surprise me about the tractor trailers, I would think that over the road truckers, since they go all over everywhere, would keep chains in their truck all the time. Evidently, they don’t.

    Charleston seemed to have come through this fine, even though they get less of this type weather than we do. They just decided to shut things down and wait it out.

    I think a little levity is in order, so I’ll post this. Moral of the story: Don’t mess with a man who makes a living standing out in hurricanes. 😆


  3. There WOULD have been a lot of people upset if school had been cancelled on the fly and the storm had never materialized. These days, most families have two working parents. They can arrange child care for non-school days they know about in advance, but if school is cancelled at 4:00 in the morning, someone has to bite the bullet and skip work. That’s a small inconvenience in an emergency, but it’s infuriating unreliability in a non-event.

    Plus, sometimes parents don’t get the word before they leave for work. Children stand out in the cold waiting for buses that don’t come.

    This is a situation that’s probably just gonna bite us every decade or so until the nature of jobs changes so more of us telecommute.

    Having fallen victim to Snowjam ’82, I left work ahead of the problem on Tuesday. I felt pretty good about my decision-making ability until I saw a time-lapse map of the congestion. Yes, I beat it, but only by 15 minutes or so. I wasn’t so much canny as lucky.


  4. Traffic wasn’t really a problem in those storms but 1973 and 1959/60 were a lot worse. Both were ice storms, not snow. In the ’59/60 storm, we were without power for 2 weeks and in ’73 we were out for 4 days and some folks up to a week. I remember having to go to Atlanta during the storm of ’73 to get a block of dry ice for the freezer (only place we could find any) and right into the heart of Atlanta, there were no traffic lights working and only one lane open in each direction. There was very little traffic, though as most folks only went out when they had to.

    Up here where I live, we’ve been lucky to not have an ice storm lately but I know that when we do (it’s bound to happen sometime), I can count on being without power for 4 days. People take their conveniences for granted.


    • You’re right about ice storms. I don’t remember the earlier storm you mention very well because I was a little kid when it happened, and I think it may have occurred when I was sick with the measles. My mother used a candle to light my room for some of the time I was sick, and I think I knew it was because the power was off. I remember the ’73 storm very well. I was in college, home in Atlanta on semester break, and our power was off for a week or more. The home where we lived in Sandy Springs had been way too far out for city services at the time it was built (the ’50s), so we had a well with an electric pump. No power meant no lights, no heat, no water, no bathrooms. I’ll never forget what a relief it was to fly back to Virginia and go to a heated, lighted dorm with working toilets and showers. Yes, we take conveniences for granted.


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