Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
I try to write posts that are positive, not negative, but the “light snow shuts down Atlanta” articles are starting to get to me. Let me explain a bit about how Atlanta got to the point of twelve-hour commutes yesterday.
Everyone went to work and sent their kids to school Tuesday morning. I know, it sounds crazy. Atlanta sometimes gets snow once a year, and all the meteorologists said it was passing south of us. Combined with the need to go to work, keep a job, make rent payments, and abide by laws regarding school attendance for children, acting like it was a normal weekday sounds absurd. (Trust me, families would have loved to stay home yesterday.)
Government offices, schools, and local businesses did not close down until 1PM, and when they did close, it was all at the same time. It had already been snowing in my part of Atlanta for two hours by then. I was very lucky that my company sent me home as soon as it started snowing. Something about be being in my last few weeks of pregnancy, and I better not have the baby in the office. I dunno.
So, everyone got on the road at the same time heading in the same direction… away from the city. No one lives in downtown Atlanta. Everyone commutes into town every day. Roads were already getting slushy, and hills were becoming suspiciously slick. Atlanta has a lack of infrastructure regarding winter weather conditions. When there are limited snow plows and salt trucks to service the highways, there is nothing available for surface roads. Even a couple of inches of snow can become dangerous when left untreated.
Here’s some pretty crazy pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Highways became congested and surface roads froze up as the afternoon wore on. School buses trying to get children home safe became stuck, and people abandoned their cars and started walking. By the time it was dark, people had to make a choice between forging ahead or seeking shelter for the night. Over eight hundred children were snowed in at their schools overnight. One father walked six miles to spend the night with his daughter at her elementary school.
Thankfully, I had made it home with my preschooler Sweetpea and my aforementioned Thing Two. Another woman was not so lucky and delivered her baby on 285 by her husband and a police officer. Bless the poor woman and her family.
There is nowhere to go and nothing to do about it. This was not a lack of preparation by individuals (except for the ones that ran out of gas). This was a city dealing with a situation that was almost as unprecedented as the zombie apocalypse. We’ve had snow before, but it usually rolls in overnight so parents aren’t at work and kids aren’t school when the city closes down. This is a matter of poor timing and poor decision-making by our leadership.
Here’s hoping the National Guard can help dig us out today so Atlanta can get back to being awesome by tomorrow.