Southerners not used to wicked winter weather were frozen in their tracks Tuesday as a rare storm swept the region, dumping snow and ice from Houston to the Carolinas. Just a few inches of snow brought the region to a virtual standstill as jackknifed 18-wheelers littered Alabama’s I-65 and all flights out of New Orleans’ airport were grounded.
States of emergency were declared in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina as emergency crews worked to rescue stranded drivers and clear snow and ice. But the frigid conditions weren’t expected to make things any easier for driving on Wednesday — the Alabama Department of Transportation asked drivers to stay off the roads until at least noon.
Atlanta was among the most-affected metro areas, as Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia’s 159 counties after 2-3 inches of snowfall. In the Atlanta area, people were trapped in their cars after trying to commute home, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that hundreds of cars were stranded on interstates and side streets throughout the city.
Even though schools were dismissed early, some buses still hadn’t made it home as of late Tuesday night. A spokeswoman for the school district said that around midnight, about 50 students were still aboard school buses mired in traffic.
But friends and good samaritans came out to help. Atlanta Braves slugger Freddie Freeman spent more than five hours in traffic trying to get home from Turner Field, but thankfully former teammate Chipper Jones (who retired in 2012) came to his rescue on a 4-wheeler: