As the South made national news this week for the cold front that immobilized millions of residents, thousands of them on the roads when the storm hit, it became a source of amusement for the rest of America. Interstates would have come to a screeching halt if the quick glazing ice had allowed for the sound. Instead, one car after another quietly slid into the back, side, or front of another, and the ensuing gridlock left drivers, professionals and civilians alike, stranded for hours.
Atlanta and Birmingham were the largest metropolitan areas affected by the rare winter conditions in the South. The Weather Channel and most other news outlets have been sharing views of the road from their own reporters and the many pictures shared by stranded motorists through social media outlets. Twitter feeds have been steady streams of blocked roads, upside-down vehicles, and abandoned cars.
News crews found themselves wedged into the roadway mess with the rest of the motoring public. One Atlanta cameraman teamed with a stopped truck driver from Arizona for a candid reporting experience that included moonwalking and a little swearing while falling.
While not everyone was able to find humorous means to wait out the storm, many lent hands and supplies to those around them. An Illinois truck driver shared with his hometown news station his experience in walking miles to help a mother with an infant in need of diapers. Radio stations have been flood with phone calls by gracious recipients looking for someway to thank the nameless angels who helped them down the road, supplied water, or opened their business to share some heat.
As the roads thaw and clear, more stories will continue to offer up encouragement and praise of road rescues. In the meantime, many have been quick to criticize and mock the near-complete shutdown of the South due to a thin layer of ice and a few inches of snow. But for those northern hearts who now call Dixie home, a little perspective goes a long way to extinguish criticisms from the outside about lack of preparation and response.
Pastor Layne Schranz, a former Coloradoan truck driver turned Alabama resident, gave a Southern defense to AL.com. Though it may seem ridiculous to most that such a small amount of ice can bring an entire region to a brake-grinding halt, how better off could they have been for communities not accustomed nor equipped to face this type of weather system? Schranz concludes, “I have a new-found respect for snow in the south and will be more hesitant to make fun of schools closing before one flake falls.”