These past few days have made me proud to be a Southerner.
Like the vast majority of ATLiens, I am a Southern transplant who moved here for college a little over a decade ago. I liked the weather, food and people enough, so I stuck around after graduation. I always prided myself as a “Northerner,” even though I grew up in Virginia (still technically the South).
When the snowpocalypse hit metro Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon, the Mini-me and I were lucky enough to already be in the comforts of our house. So we sat by our bay window and enjoyed watching the big flakes of snow fall from the sky, covering the grass and roads outside, turning our neighborhood into a winter wonderland. Paul came home shortly afterwards and we baked chocolate chip cookies as a little family and enjoyed our snow day.
Little did we know about the mess that was unfolding in Atlanta traffic. After our neighbors called to tell us that they were stuck at the bottom of the hill at the entrance to our community, did we turn on the news and see the gridlock that had paralyzed all of Atlanta’s interstates. As the night wore on, we started hearing stories of people still trapped in their cars. In fact, my sister-in-law and her daughter ended up having a 23 hour commute home from school.
But, instead of talking about the lack of preparation from the local government, joking about Southerners not knowing how to drive in snow and complaining about Atlanta’s lack of public transit… I want to celebrate the acts of Southern hospitality and heroism that popped up all over Atlanta and the South:
– People who walked down highways and streets to stranded cars, handing out food and water.
– Families who opened their homes to strangers who needed a place to rest.
– Stores (Home Depot, Chick-Fil-A, Publix, RaceTrac) who opened their doors to offer shelter, food and bathroom to those stranded.
– The brain surgeon who walked six miles in the snow to operate on a patient.
– And of course, the amazing Facebook group “SnowedOutAtlanta” created by Michelle Sollicito of Marietta, to connect and help people who were stuck outside away from home during the snow storm.
Only in the South would you see people come together in such an amazing way when others are in need. Like I was saying with my friend, Robyn, this morning:
“We may not have been prepared for the snow in Atlanta, but we were definitely prepared to help out.”
Atlanta, you have made me proud to be a part of your family, and proud to call myself a Southerner.