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Blogging Fayette Snowjam 2014

Cal Beverly's picture

UPDATE 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 — Folks around here will be comparing future snow storms to the one we experienced today. It is epic in its scale of "victims," the numbers of people who have been immobilized for hours on major highways around Atlanta. I think the 1982 Snow Jam was big for its time, but the sheer numbers today overwhelm that memory.

We're beginning to hear calls for Gov. Deal to mobilize the National Guard and send some rescue vehicles out to help the thousands of stranded motorists, if nothing else to bring some food, drink and warm blankets to the many who were unprepared to spend the night in their vehicles without heat during 20-degree weather.

All schools are closed on Wednesday, as are government offices in Fayette, except for emergency services.

The Citizen delivery will be delayed into Thursday because of the road conditions. We appreciate your patience.

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UPDATE 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 — Here's one of untold hundreds of dramas unfolding out on those cold dark roads.

Fayette real estate agent Kay posted on Facebook that she is stuck in a frozen line of traffic on I-285 at Camp Creek Parkway. Kay is 19 miles from her Fayette home. She has been in her vehicle nine hours and 40 minutes. Here's part of her post:

6 hours ago:
 
Stuck in the snow storm in Atlanta! ?? I've been trying to get home for 3 hours and am getting NO WHERE fast. Ugh..... No end in site! K
4 hours ago:
 
It has taken me 5 1/2 hours to go 25 miles and I have another 29 to go. If I'm lucky, I'll make it home by midnight. K : /
 
An hour ago: I've gone 32 miles in 8 hours and have 19 more miles to go. Still sitting on I-285. It's a parking lot.
 
24 minutes ago: 9 hours and 40 minutes. I'm NOT having fun. Help me stay positive with this yucky situation. Still not moving. : (
 
She is still 19 miles from home, on I-285 2 miles from Camp Creek.
 
a commenter told her “85 south was blocked at the 285 interchange ... Pure ice. No one could get up the hill.”
 
She is one of many.
 

Now, let's talk about the school closing decision. Lots of parents are, to put it mildly, upset about the late call on closing schools, two hours after the snow began falling hard and steady.

Many of the same complainers were likewise upset about the early call to close schools less than two weeks ago simply because of the low temperatures. Stabbed if you do, stabbed if you don't.

I think Superintendent Jody Barrow was working with very imperfect predictive information that seemed to change hourly. If the forecast had fizzled — as many have — few would have thanked him for keeping the kids in class.

He missed this one, but I'll bet he won't miss the next one.

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UPDATE 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 — As many offices did, we began releasing staff members by 1 p.m. to make their way to their homes.

Sandy left first; she arrived home in Coweta County three and a half hours later. It took Barbara two hours to get to Newnan and Gwen one and a half hours to get to Sharpsburg. Joyce and I followed Ben in his 4-wheel-drive Toyota through back roads in north Fayette to get past the shutdown at the Whitewater Creek bridge on Ga. Highway 54. We pulled into our driveway an hour after we embarked.

I noticed a few things as I white-knuckled our way out Sandy Creek Road toward Ga. Highway 74. One was that there a lot of bad drivers on the roads. In one location on a snowy curve on Sandy Creek Road — like the legendary elephants' graveyard — no fewer than five vehicles lay in various unnatural positions on both sides of the road, all abandoned until warmer weather reappears. Ben and I puttered through the mechanical carnage at about 25 mph, with never a slip or slide to be felt.

The other striking thing was how many drivers slowed nearly to a stop — just before attempting to climb an icy hill. There may be dumber ways to traverse a slippery slope, but I can't think of any offhand.

A deputy sheriff told up at mid-afternoon that most roads were perfectly passable for careful drivers. The problem, he confided, was stupid drivers who fouled the way, blocking all who came behind them.

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As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, Jan. 28, here's a running update of what we've seen, heard and know about the snowstorm that has shut down metro Atlanta.

Many thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of people are still stuck on the icy roads all over the metro area. Many have abandoned vehicles and are trying to walk home or to a shelter. Many were not prepared for the trek.

Two of them are trying to get to each other somewhere on Upper Roswell Road. Jessica has been in an immobilized car for more than six hours within a few miles of her apartment. Her husband Dennis has left the apartment on foot with warm clothing for her. His cell phone battery is done to 12 percent. Joyce and I are praying for them.

UPDATE 9:15 p.m.: Dennis just texted, "The package is secure. About a half mile from the house. Mission success!"

Here in Fayette, schools, government offices and many businesses will be closed Wednesday because, with temperatures in the mid-20s outside, the snow has turned to slush in places and has refrozen. The high on Wednesday is expected to reach 32, freezing point of water. Driving likely will remain hazardous through the day Wednesday.

You won't get your paper tomorrow. The truck carrying the papers couldn't navigate its way from Fulton Industrial Boulevard to our warehouse in Fayetteville. We'll receive pallets of The Citizen by 3 p.m. Wednesday. Delivery drivers will head out loaded with bagged papers Thursday morning. We appreciate your understanding and patience. This is the first weather-caused delivery delay in our 20 years of producing The Citizen.

Our online digital edition will be available by 8 a.m. Wednesday. Try it out — look just beneath the "fold" in the right rail on our website frontpage. Click on the animated turning pages and check out an exact replica of our print edition.

We'll keep you updated on weather, road conditions and other Snowjam 2014 effects in this space. Newer posts will live atop earlier, older ones.

I've got some observations on our one-hour trip from Fayetteville to Peachtree City Tuesday afternoon. That's in the next post.

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The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else. F. Bastiat

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