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School rescues, sleeping in cars among storm tales
They crept through traffic that makes an ordinary Atlanta rush hour feel like a drag race, trudged home through ice and snow while watching cars skid and slide through intersections and spent the night taking care of young children stranded at school. Some even slept in their cars.
The winter storm that blasted Georgia and Alabama on Tuesday caught many people behind the wheel, at work or at school before they could make it home. Getting through it would test their patience, their endurance and perhaps even their character.
Here are the stories of a few who braved the cold that virtually shut down the South.
Jessica Troy’s commute home from work took more than half a day. She described it as driving a slow-motion obstacle course on sheets of ice.
On Interstate 285 that circles Atlanta’s perimeter, drivers Tuesday evening had to veer around cars abandoned in traffic and tractor-trailers skidded on the ice and wound up blocking multiple lanes. And everything seemed to move at the slowest pace imaginable.
“We literally would go 5 feet and sit for two hours,” Troy said after she and a co-worker who rode with her finally made it home just after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
They spent more than 16 hours in the car together. Their total trip was about 12 miles.
Troy said they left the advertising agency where they work at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Roads were still clogged with drivers who tried to rush home after lunch as the ice storm hit.
The standstill traffic gave Troy plenty of time to call her parents and send text messages to friends, letting them know she was OK. By 3 a.m. her car was stuck on a freeway entrance ramp. She put it in park, left the heat running and tried to get some sleep.
“I slept for an hour and it was not comfortable,” Troy said. “Most people sat the entire night with no food, no water, no bathroom. We saw people who had children. It was a dire situation.”
After daybreak a few good Samaritans appeared, going car-to-car and handing out bottles of water and cookies. Traffic started moving again at about 8:30. The rest of the trip took about two hours.
Troy had enough time to shower, eat and grab an hourlong nap before starting her workday Wednesday morning. Fortunately, she was able to telecommute on her laptop.
“I jumped back into working,” she said. “But I was so glad to be home, I don’t even care.”
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