Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Snow Day in Atlanta.

Unless you've been under a rock or avoiding the news, you already know that we are now in a bit of a snowpacalypse here in Atlanta. For those who come from northern or Canada or even those who've lived in those parts like I once did, the thought of three inches of snow shutting down an entire city sounds like some kind of joke, doesn't it?

Well. Trust me on this--it isn't. 

Cities like Atlanta get totally overwhelmed by this kind of weather. The kind of resources and preparation that it takes to ready a metropolitan area of this size requires a few things that we don't really have. The first, I'd say, is frequency. When I lived in Cleveland, Ohio during my residency, this sort of thing would have been but a blink on the radar. The salt would be down and the stores would be open. And there would be nothing to even discuss. Why? Because big piles of snow followed by tons of cold is common there. So nobody gives the mayor or the governor the hairy eyeball when he or she decides to earmark a bunch of money for salt trucks and city workers to operate them.

In Atlanta? That's a different thing. Some years we get snow like this. Some years we don't. But we always have schools and roads and things that cost the state money. So it's really, really hard to be fully prepared for something like this.

And before anyone jumps on me for saying that, I'm not saying that it's impossible to be better prepared or that we can't learn lessons. But I am saying that we will never be like Shaker Heights, Ohio when it comes to salting roads and clearing out highways.

That is, unless you have the other necessary thing. Oh, what's that, you ask? The money, honey. All of that stuff costs money. Salt truck fleets? And people working them? That costs money. Equipment and materials cost money and storing it all costs a bunch of extra money on top of that money. Oh, and maintaining it all so that it works after sitting through the years where you don't need them costs money, too. And last time I checked, no major metropolitan city had an endless supply of it.


I've watched the news all day. I feel so awful about all of the people who've been stranded on roadways and left without basic needs. It was an epic fail when the alarm was sounded for everyone to hit the highways at the same time. It was. And, yes, we missed the boat when it wasn't communicated to close the schools in advance. But the more I watched this, the more I wondered. What exactly could anyone do to fully prepare for this and have it go off without a hitch? I'm just not sure.

Sure. It's easy for me to say all this from my warm cozy house. Maybe if I'd been the lady who had a baby on I-285 yesterday I'd be singing a different tune. But I guess I just get tired of hearing people fussing at each other and pointing fingers. I'm annoyed with the rants. I am. Why? Because I feel pretty sure that no one person is to blame for black ice covering the roads throughout the southeast and cars being unable to drive on it. Of that I am certain. And OKAY maybe somebody should have told us all to stay home but I have a sneaking suspicion that folks would have looked at the way that Tuesday started and taken their chances. Just like they would have likely ignored someone saying "don't leave yet" when it was time to get home. Or get their kids when those schools closed.

Mmm hmmm.

I am super happy to see how kind strangers and civic workers have been to one another. That's been the best part of watching the news today. Otherwise? The rest has been downright depressing.

me at the med school yesterday

We've been mostly okay. I had a close call when I left the med school on Tuesday and found myself in a winter wonderland. But beyond a little slow traffic by the hospital it was okay. The BHE had already picked up the boys from their respective schools so we were all safe and sound. Thank goodness.

Early in the evening yesterday, Harry decided he'd head down to his restaurant. Not only are there lots of college students in walking distance, he felt like a lot of stranded people would be hungry and praying that someone on the street would still be open. So do you know what he did? He went down there yesterday evening fully prepared to spend the night. Which is exactly what he did.


That man worked the grill, the register, and washed dishes, too. And he was spot on about his prediction. NOTHING else was open. And the word got out very fast that Mardi Gras Cafe was. 

And is. 

So while we've been playing in the powdery snow and drinking hot cocoa, Harry has been working. Serving that community and providing a warm square for a whole lot of people who desperately want one. And you know what? That makes me feel sort of proud.


Damn. I just love how non-lazy that man is. He is literally the opposite of lazy--he really is. Which reminds me a lot of my father. And only makes me love him more.

So. I guess I'll end this ramble with a few random photos from our snow day today. I hope everyone is staying warm and I truly hope those who were stranded have made it to safe places.


The one who started the snowball fight.

And if you're hungry on the west side of Atlanta? Go on and holler at the BHE over at Mardi Gras. He's keeping the light on for you. :)

Happy Snowy Hump Day. Again.

Oh! I almost forgot to share this part. My mentorific-mentor Neil W. was leaving Grady today and felt bad when I told him that my kids were about to OD on breakfast food. He was kind enough to pick us up some basics from Kroger since he knew the BHE was holding down the restaurant. He's from Long Island so when I asked him about being afraid to drive he said:

"C'mon son!"

Don't believe me? This is EPIC video was taken by Neil driving on the way to Grady during our last Snowpacalypse in 2011. (Which, now that I think of it, PROVES that we were more prepared for this time than we were back then.) This video TOTALLY embodies his New Yorker-ness and carefree personality.  Who else would be driving, narrating and filming during that kind of weather? Ha!

My favorite line in this: "This has literally been untouched by YOUMAN PLOWS!"

Thanks, Neil--we had tacos for dinner thanks to you!


  1. Oh, Atlanta. Bless your heart! I loved this post and am glad that you've managed to be safe from the craziness. My parents have filled me in on all the hoopla, and I have to say that I think the media is to blame for whipping up all the hysteria and blame -- most people, I imagine, are more like you and don't blame the city or the mayor.

  2. I love this! I moved from Indiana to Houston and didn't understand why the entire city went into a mad panic the first winter when the temps threatened to drop below freezing. And then I saw what happens in a city with no cold-weather machinery when all the overpasses freeze! Bless you all, including the industrious and upright BHE. Stay warm and safe!

  3. I've been in the ATL most of my life and I can't remember snow dropping THAT fast and all the icing up that fast on a weekday, in the middle of the day. I can't remember. And I think that is the problem. Plus I was under the impression that it was going to snow south of Atlanta. Luckily, I live less than 5 miles from my job so I got home quick. But the side streets iced up so quickly. Scary.

    Just think... it will be warm this weekend. And this will be a memory.

  4. I heart Neil and the BHE. Good doods, man.

  5. Woot woot replying when I am not crying!! First, props to the BHE!! Way to go, Mr. Manning!! Second, your boys are adorable!! I grew up not too far south of Chicago and lived there until I was 31. I am over the snow! That said, we move to southern MO and we get more ice then snow here and ice is awful. I prefer for people to stay off the roads if they don't know how to drive in it. I am glad your family is safe and hoping everything is back to normal soon!


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