Georgia Is Closed Because Snow is Falling, People Don’t Know How to Drive, and Everybody Tries to Go Home at the Same Time

January 29, 2014 at 3:20 PM 1 comment

by Fred DeRuvo

For people who don't know how to drive in snow and ice, it takes less than a second to do something wrong.

For people who don’t know how to drive in snow and ice, it takes less than a second to do something wrong.

I will get back to my “Bizarro World” series with part two soon. But before I do, I wanted to write a blog about the ice/snow storm that literally shut down Georgia yesterday and today and probably tomorrow and maybe even the next day.

Another storm like this (but not as bad, say some) hit Georgia back in 2011. Though I wasn’t here at the time, I remember friends and relatives who did live here talking about it and posting pictures. It was unreal to me the way much of the state came to a complete standstill.

At 11:30 am yesterday morning, my wife and I were in a whole foods type of store in Alpharetta, GA. Snow was coming down, but neither of us thought much of it except that it was pretty. Driving in it had not been a big deal and since I spent many years in New York State, I was accustomed to this type of weather. I knew what to do and what not to do. Having an all-wheel drive vehicle that could switch to 4-wheel drive also helped. However, even with that, a person needs to know how to drive in snow and what NOT to do when you hit what is known as “black ice” (named because you really can’t see it against the black asphalt).

By the time we left the store, the snow was still coming down, but something major had changed. There were TONS of cars on the road. It just seemed weird. In fact, as we drove from the store to pick up our son (whom we had left at another place), we quickly realized it was taken a very long time to get there. Traffic was hardly moving. We finally managed to meet our son close to where we were (he walked to us) and then we began what turned out to be the exceedingly slow (torturous) drive back to Hampton, which was a bit over an hour south from Alpharetta.

Unfortunately, everywhere we looked, there were walls of cars. Nothing was moving and I could not believe that there were this many people in Georgia and they were all in cars and trucks trying to get somewhere. The time was now about 1:30pm. After winding around here and there, trying this freeway or that one, or getting off the freeway to side streets, we finally reached my brother-in-law’s home nine hours later. He was actually only about 15 to 20 minutes from where we were in Alpharetta on a good day, but this was certainly not a good day at all.

As we drove along, we listened to the traffic report and one particular DJ took calls and kept trying to convince people to pull off the road. He said we should go to a restaurant or someplace and wait. The problem? He wasn’t aware that most places had shut down. No restaurants were open. Many gas stations were out of gas or closed.

When we finally found a gas station, we learned they were out of gas, but they did have gas cans. We bought two gas cans and hiked over a mile to another gas station, filled up the cans and then went back to put gas in our car. Had we tried to drive to the second gas station, it would have taken at least an hour or more and we would have run out of gas.

But, back on the road, I felt we had enough gas to get to my brother-in-law’s home so that’s where we headed. We did make it and almost ran out of gas to do it. Fortunately, he had four gallons of gas that we used, spent the night at his home and set off the next day (today) to get home. Today’s drive – thankfully – was much easier and far quicker.

All I could think of yesterday as we tried to negotiate parts of Atlanta was where did all the people come from and why were they out on the roads at the same time? It was absolutely maddening.

It wasn’t until about midnight at my brother-in-law’s that we learned that the mayor of Atlanta – Kasim Reed – actually admitted that it was his mistake. He had made the decision to close schools and all government buildings at the same exact time. What this meant was that everyone (and I mean everyone) left work and school at the same time and clogged the roads, which were moving at 5 to 10 mph at best! Normally, school is let out and then an hour or so more schools are let out (depending upon times) and a few hours after that, workers leave the city to go home. Traffic is staggered. On a good day, that’s great even though there is some type of back up in the heavy spots.

However, because the weather was terrible and now everyone was trying to get home at the same time, this was a disaster. Though I appreciate the fact that Mayor Reed assumed responsibility for this decision, I noted this morning he said if he “had his druthers,” he wouldn’t have made the decision to close schools and government offices at the same time. That means either he is trying to place responsibility on others or on other situations or he doesn’t know what the word “druthers” actually means. In short, it was a terrible decision and even though Georgia’s DOT was prepared with road equipment to clear the ice and snow, they couldn’t get on the highways because there were too many cars. Absurd.

Reed was mayor in 2011 when the previous ice/snow storm hit Atlanta and crippled the city and outlying areas. You would think he would have learned something, but apparently, he did not. He spent this morning emphasizing what he was now doing to correct problems. Just like a politician.

We passed people on the road who appeared to be absolutely terrified and rightly so. Georgia is not New York. The people here are not equipped to handle snow and ice. Yet, they proceeded to try to drive in it even when they had no clue how to do it. That would be like me volunteering to drive in place of some NASCAR driver. Wouldn’t work!

On a good day, according to car insurance companies, the Atlanta area has some of the worst drivers in the nation. When it snows and rains and the roads are covered with ice, you can only imagine how bad they become.

Even those in residential neighborhoods who were actually trying to help wound up inadvertently creating more problems. At one point, there was a stack of us waiting to go up a hill. A couple of residents were directing traffic, letting one vehicle up the hill at a time. That was actually very nice of them to try to help. They would bring everyone up to their “starting point” and make them stop until the car that went before them had gone over the crest of the hill. The problem? The place where they wanted us to stop was already on the INCLINE. Most of these cars couldn’t do it. They’d try, and the driver had no clue so they’d floor it, which just made the wheels spin. Their cars began “swimming” up the road only to stop halfway up and start to slide backwards!

When it was my turn, I approached the guy who wanted me to stop and said, “You can’t stop us on this spot! It’s already on the incline and people can’t get any traction!” He looked at me like I was from Mars. I drove past him without stopping and made it up the hill easily enough because I had started from a point back far enough.

I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful because I’m not. I know that the Lord kept us safe the entire time. We did not run out of gas. We had no fender benders or accidents. At one point I had to drive on the sidewalk to avoid hitting the back-end of a truck/trailer that was stranded sideways in the road.

This terrible situation in Atlanta could have been avoided if Mayor Reed had made the correct decision. It also could have been lessened if people used more common sense while attempting to negotiate the highways, but they can’t when they are in “freak out” mode. At that point, they should have pulled over and waited. While many did, too many continued to drive on even with excessive speeds, creating more problems as they went for themselves and others.

I learned a few other things, which I”m grateful to have learned. First, keep a “bug out” bag with you with basic supplies. We managed to get to my brother-in-law’s home, but we had nothing. My blood pressure medication was at my home 50 miles away. I’ve determined that I will keep extra meds and basic supplies in the car whenever we travel because we never know when we will need to pull over and stay the night somewhere in an unexpected situation.

I heard that people left their cars and walked over nine miles to get home last night. They’re lucky they didn’t freeze or get hit by cars spinning out of control. At one point, we saw three women pulling their suitcases, walking down the MIDDLE of the road. I don’t get the lack of common sense. It boggles my mind, frankly.

Probably the most important thing I learned though from yesterday is that when snow starts falling in Atlanta, stay indoors, a lesson I will not soon forget!

Entry filed under: Politics, Religious - Christian - Theology. Tags: , , .

Bizarro World: Changing America’s Constitutional Republic to a Democracy One Step at a Time, Part 1 Bizarro World: Changing America’s Constitutional Republic to a Democracy One Step at a Time, Part 2

1 Comment

  • 1. Lester  |  January 29, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Sorry can’t resist, You went out driving around Georgia in the snow?!
    Ha! What were you thinking Fred? LOL! Of course I lived outside of Tucson AZ and watched as people went sideways down hills in the snow! I used to pull into a truck pull over and just watch far out of the way!Well now you know! Thank the Lord y’all are safe and no harm came to you. Very intelligent mayor that one. Stay warm tonight…..

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