Atlanta Snowstorm: Your Stories About What Went Right

The folks affected by Tuesday’s unprecedented weather-related events have grown weary of the national media pile-on and want the nation to know what went right. Here are a few of their stories.

Kindness of Strangers, Helping Each Other

Photo courtesy Jodi Allegra Gresham Jodi Allegra Gresham (lower center) was stranded with her 18-month-old son when "Dr. Bob" (back row, left) helped her get her car to safety and gave her and others a place to sleep in his place of business as well as food and water. 

You’ve all read the national headlines about the snowstorm that dealt Metro Atlanta a blow to the gut; we just didn’t know we were going to get sucker-punched in a time of suffering by our own neighbors. For years, we’ve been hearing (and tolerating) the jokes about how a flurry hits the ground and we buy out every last loaf of bread. Ha ha. We panic. We get it.

The Kindness of Strangers, Gas Man

Photo courtesy Jenny Jenn Jenny Jenn of Atlanta snapped this picture of a Good Samaritan who "appeared out of nowhere" and brought the stranded gas. 

Tuesday’s Snowpocalypse, however, was no laughing matter. There were over 1,500 car crashes, at least two fatalities and countless injuries. A teenager had her leg severed when she got out to push her grandmother’s car and a second car lost control and pinned her between the vehicles. Stranded folks in need of medication sat in their cars for 20 hours. An 84-year-old disoriented man went missing and was later found dead in the cold. Hardly laughing matters in our book.

“People were crying, scared, alone. It was devastating,” said Peter Sanchez of Roswell.

Sanchez left his job in Midtown Atlanta and sat for over 20 hours, but witnessed countless acts of kindness.

“I’ve never seen so many generous people in my life – total strangers handing out what little food they had,” he recounted.

Michelle Sollicito, now an Atlanta legend, formed the Facebook group SnowedOutAtlanta where people could post their needs, where they were stranded and also where people offered help. 

Kindness of Strangers, The Good Stuff

Photo courtesy Mary Elizabeth Ellenburg Mary Elizabeth Ellenburg and the owner of Parker's Organic Juices, Michele Peplinksi. They "brought out cases of the good stuff" for the thirsty.

Rita Martin of Kennesaw was just one of the few people who stayed up all night linking people with help.

“It was nothing,” she said modestly.

Local businesses such as Home Depot, Kroger, Publix, Racetrac, Chick Fil-A, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, McDonald’s, Waffle House, Hardees and Target stayed open, letting people sleep on their floors. Some also gave out all the food they had, free of charge.

“The Zaxby's on Old Milton in Alpharetta was closed and, as the staff was walking out the door, they got a call from a special needs school that had twenty kids with autism stuck without food or parents. They turned everything back on and made food for these kids, thereby getting themselves stuck,” said Rachel Huff Julian.

We rounded up only a few firsthand accounts, letting you know that yes, it’s true: we’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Rashan Lawhorne of Atlanta gave this personal account:

Brian Shroyer has a beautiful soul. He lives in my neighborhood and I have never met him. He saw me on the road slipping crashing and sliding and pulled up beside me in his Toyota Truck. I was in a panic to pick up my 4 and 2 year old from KinderCare. Without hesitation he took me to go get them. It took us four hours to drive eight miles to and from the school to get us home safe. No complaints at all, wouldn't accept gas from me and didn't even think twice about helping a total stranger.

The very next morning after my wife was stranded out there 22 hours. I texted Brian to let him know she was still out there. I told him where she was stranded and again without hesitation and braving the ice on the roads he went and got her and also a few other ladies getting them all home safely. I Salute you Brian Shroyer you a true Hero to us.

Estelle Kpakpo's personal account: 

I never met William but thanks to SnowedOutAtlanta we are now friends. I wrote Tuesday night [on the Facebook page] that my twin sister was stuck on 285 with no gas. He responded Wednesday and went to pick up my sister to take her to the shelter. He checked to see if she got home and then he offered to come get us and go retrieve her car. He came this morning, paid for gas to put in her car, jump started her car and followed us to make sure the car was fine. He is one of the many angels of this group. Thank you again, William. You are now our brother.

The Kindness of Strangers, Estelle Kpakpo

Photo courtesy Estelle Kpakpo Estelle Kpakpo of Atlanta met William through the Facebook group SnowedOutAtlanta. He brought her and her sister (left) to safety and asked for nothing in return. She now calls her "brother." 

Shubhendu Mohanty was stranded for 50 hours and gave this personal account:

After hording the little gas I had and helping push countless cars to the side of the road, I must say it wasn’t bad at all. In fact it was a great experience because it’s not every day you see people laying their blankets on the road so other cars could get some traction; a couple roaming on the road in the freezing cold distributing free food and water; a gas station cashier working 48-hour shift and offering free coffee; a BMW 750i owner abandoning his own car so he could rescue other cars; a stranger reassuring a weeping mother of two children stuck in their school; all-wheel drive truck owners roaming the roads and offering help.

It’s not every day you witness so many acts of kindness. The Southern hospitality of Atlanta was at its peak on Tuesday night.

Kindness of Strangers, Giving Back

Photo courtesy Christie Fox After she was helped to safety by strangers, Christie Fox of Atlanta returned to the cold freeway and handed out free gas and water. 

Cyndi Davis witnessed a stranded US Foods big rig open their stuck trucks for food to stranded travelers.

Kurt McManus said that not only did Kroger on Thornton Road offer him shelter, but an employee also loaned him a phone charger and then yesterday morning they made him breakfast.

Shawn Daniel said that Mirage Persian Restaurant offered all the food they had and offered a warm and safe place for folks to rest. Daniel added that Publix on Abernathy and Roswell Road, one of the worst hit areas, opened their doors to all.

Arianna Grant Menlo said that a Frito Lay employee handed out snacks off a stuck truck.

Kim Waid LeGrand said that the Johnny's Pizza on Towne Lake in Woodstock took in school kids off the buses and gave them free pizza and drinks until parents could get to them.

Kindness of Strangers, Random Acts

Photo courtesy Carly Orbon Carly Orbon snapped this shot of a total stranger de-icing her parking lot in Atlanta. 

Babs DeGraw Goodwyn reported that the Super Target on Holcomb Bridge Rd let a group of disabled adults sleep in their store when their bus couldn't navigate the slick roads.

Jimmy Cochrane said that JCJ Contractors headed out with all their trucks out and pulled people out of ditches gave them rides home and helped clear roads.

Sarah Colette Gilbert’s husband stayed at Marietta Billiards with several other stranded people.

Kindness of Strangers, Instagram

Photo courtesy Greg F. Countless images of strangers helping each other like the above popped up all over social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

Hope Burns said that the Comfort Inn on Cobb Parkway put rollaway beds in the hotel’s conference room for her brother and other stranded motorists.

Amanda Phelps said that the Jersey Mike’s on Powers Ferry Road and Windy Hill took in “dozens of stranded people in their little restaurant, feeding them and not charging them a dime, letting them sleep there and ensuring they were safe and warm.”

 

 

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