Notes from the ATL's storm
Seeing and recognizing the good
It’s been quite a couple of days in Atlanta. As you know, the South was not equipped for the ice / snow that fell on Tuesday, January 28th. Folks went to work as usual that morning, thousands upon thousands tried to leave around lunchtime, and the city just doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with ice and snow like in the North. There are a lot of people in the North laughing about what occurred in the South, but it was no joke.
Although I was safe and warm throughout the day and night, thousands of people were stranded in their cars for hours. Commutes turned into 2, 3, 4…then 9, 10….16, 19, even 24+ hours. As of Wednesday, people were still stranded on the interstates, and hundreds of abandoned cars are scattered on the highways.
I woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday night. Between my next door neighbor’s house getting broken into that evening, and all of those people experiencing 14+ hour commutes, I felt helpless…especially as most people were stranded on the outskirts of Atlanta and I’m downtown.
As I read through the Facebook posts on SnowedOutAtlanta and other sources, I started to tear up. There were stories of people with medical emergencies, those with chronic conditions and no access to medication or their usual regimens. Cars running out of gas. Cell phone batteries dying. Parents with sick babies. Those who had no food, water, blankets or access to a restroom. Older adults. Some wheelchair-bound. Children. Pregnant. Cold. All trapped in their cars just trying to get home or other destination.
I kept wondering, how can I focus on faith and love over fear here, especially while not ignoring that there are people in need?
I asked for a miracle. Guidance. Maybe a shift in perspective. But how can people with life threatening conditions trapped in a cold car be positive? Will I "get it" later? Is it for me to worry about? Sure, life is what you make of it. And my guess is some people in the storm chose to make the best of it. Could they find a silver lining? Look at the bigger picture? Find things to be grateful for?
Challenging? Perhaps. It takes a conscious effort. I still felt unsettled about people stranded, especially those with special needs.
I took some deep breaths, and pictured angels surrounding and protecting those in need. My heart was breaking for them.
The next morning, I work up to a overwhelming theme of kindness and community. The outpour of love was apparent. How people banded together was amazing. So many stories of strangers helping strangers. Volunteers in effected areas delivered food. People opened their homes to strangers. People gave rides as they could. People walked along the interstate to track down those in need. Businesses opened their doors to provide temporary shelters.
Even those in my neighborhood have banded together in ways we haven’t with the above-mentioned burglary that happened Tuesday evening.
While this does not take away from the fact that many people had to go through this experience, the stories of compassion and kindness made my heart smile. Who knows, perhaps this event will have a positive impact in different ways as well. (Infrastructure anyone? Prevention and preparedness?)
Sending lots of love, a helping hand, healing thoughts and prayers to those in need. Let’s continue to focus on the solutions, and how we can make a powerful impact individually and as a community.
"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito." ~ Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop