Thousands of commuters in the South were stranded en route Tuesday and into Wednesday because of snowy conditions during an unexpected winter storm.
Many spent 10-12 hours in their vehicles, trying to conserve gas, power, and warmth. Others took shelter with nearby strangers, who generously opened their homes; and some (like the 5,300 students in Alabama) were even forced to camp out in school buildings or sleep the night in buses.
CNN reported the panic that spread when what was supposed to be a light dusting of snow turned to chaos. A thin sheet of ice and 3-10 inches of snow on the roads (depending on location) left thousands of people stranded in their vehicles during their commute home.
As one woman went into labor, she set off for the hospital only to find gridlock after gridlock blocked her path. She called the paramedics, but they, too, had no clear route to reach her car through the disorder that Tuesday’s winter storm blew in, leaving her stranded on the road.
The weather was also a factor in over 1,000 fender benders, five deaths in Alabama, and another 23 injuries.
The traffic problems began when schools, businesses, and government offices sent people home at the exact same time due to the weather.
According to Yahoo! News, “as people waited in gridlock, the snow [built up], the roads froze, cars ran out of gas and tractor-trailers jackknifed, blocking equipment that could have treated some of the roads.”
The desperate situation brought many people together to help stranded motorists. Residents near the highway opened their homes to strangers who needed food, water, and a warm place to stay. Others offered their services, as well, including a police officer who helped deliver a daughter to the pregnant woman stranded in her car.
"There was a sense that we are all in this together,” said Mira Lowe, a CNN editor who watched as people left their vehicles to help others.
Check out stories from other stranded drivers here
Read the rest of CNN’s article “Atlanta mayor blames poor coordination for storm snafu”
Read Yahoo! News’ article “Helicopters search for stranded Southern drivers”
Do you know what to do in a snow and ice storm? Having a car emergency kit can definitely help by giving you food, water, warmth, and other needed supplies.
Check out these articles for more ways you can stay safe in the cold:
“Stuck in the Snow? How’s your Emergency Car Kit?
“How to Winterize your Car”
Video Courtesy of CNN
Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! News