The Snowpocalypse of 2014

Snow is pretty rare here in Georgia.  Some years we’re lucky if we even see a couple of flakes.  Because of this, we don’t have many city snowplows or sand/salt trucks available. Even a “minor” winter storm can cause the roads to get pretty sketchy, even for a native Utahn.  Out here, snow usually comes because the temperature dipped *just* below freezing, meaning it is more likely to melt and refreeze as the temperature hovers in that zone, coating everything in ice.  When it does snow, schools tend to close, as do many businesses.

For me, this means that snow not only brings a novelty for my children but also an unscheduled school holiday.  And I’m perfectly happy to hunker down with my family (and food storage, if need be) and enjoy the time together.

So when the schools sent out a phone call on Monday night, January 27, reminding parents to make sure their “inclement weather transportation” information was up to date, I definitely took note.  And when I saw the “Winter Weather Advisory” before going to bed, I got a little excited, wondering if it would be enough to cancel school the next day.  Especially if that meant that I didn’t have to get us all up early the next morning.

But the next morning came and school wasn’t cancelled, much to my disappointment.  It looked like the bulk of the storm would come after school ended.  So we sent the children off to school and continued watching, just in case anything changed.

The weather looked quite beautiful outside and I started to wonder if this storm would actually miss us after all.  But the winter weather warnings continued and at 10am the schools officially announced that they would let out two hours early, at noon.  I later learned that doing that rather than just cancelling immediately made it so they wouldn’t have to count that day as a snow day.  And they figured that most of the storm would be after that point anyway.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Meanwhile, I was just having a peaceful day at home.  I went back to sleep after getting the kids on the bus (as I usually do so I can focus later in the day).  Then woke up and played with Aaron.  Bryan was working from home so I was bugging him keeping him company by doing some things in our room.  I don’t remember if Abigail was sleepy from just waking up or if she had been up and was getting ready for her nap, but this is what things looked like in our home around 11am, just as the snow started falling.

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And then Abigail looked out the window.  And I have a video of it.  :)  I didn’t catch her first reaction unfortunately, (she started with an excited, “It’s snowing!”) but here are the next 5 minutes of her reaction to the snow.  :)  (Heads up – this will be the most fun for someone who really enjoys hearing her speak.  Everyone else could watch about 2 minutes and get the gist of the rest.)

As you may see in the video, the snow was still quite light.  It was coming, but not sticking much at all.  I did find it funny how her initial excitement changed to concern that the snow was getting on everything and her insistence that we’d “better take it off.”  :)

But it was coming!  Yay!  And I was excited to get my other children home early and enjoy some more time together.

We got another automated call just before noon, letting us know that the younger elementary school (ours are divided: PreK-2nd go to KES and 3rd-5th go to BSIS) had everyone loaded and was letting out a few minutes early.

Right around noon, Emma and Kathryn were brought home.  Because Kathryn’s in pre-K, her bus comes right in front of our house.  I’m pretty sure we were the first stop.  There was a good inch or so of snow on the ground by that point – nothing awful.  But then, as the girls got off their bus I noticed the bus move a little.  And after getting them in the house I watched as the bus driver drove away.  Or tried to.  She couldn’t move.  Every time she tried, the bus slid back a little.  I think she ended up turning the wheels so that it touched our curb, so she wouldn’t slide down the hill.  The bus was stuck.

That was the first sign of the craziness to come.  There were at least three children still on the bus, as well as the bus driver.  I offered to have them come inside but they had to stay with the bus.  It killed me to not be able to do anything to help them, and I found myself peeking out the window a number of times, but I tried not to worry too much.

Bryan went up to the top of the hill to get Jonathan.  The regular KES school bus came and left but there was no sign of the BSIS bus. Bryan came home after 15-20 minutes.  We’d just learned that the KES bus was also stuck in the neighborhood (though thankfully, it didn’t sound like they were literally stuck like the bus in front our our house).  The KES bus had been able to tell us that the BSIS bus had left their school and was en route.  The family at the top of the hill promised to call when the bus came so we didn’t have to stay outside waiting.

By this time I was really getting worried.  I had no idea where Jonathan was (other than “en route”) and no idea when he’d be home.  A neighbor texted me to check in on her son (who is in Jonathan’s class) as she was stuck in traffic trying to get her preschooler.  What should have been a 10 minute drive was stretching into at least 30.

Meanwhile the girls were having a blast playing together, blithely unaware of any reason for concern.

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Kathryn introduces “Queen Abigail”

I was still concerned about the bus stuck in front, but now was more concerned about my child stuck on a bus somewhere along the way.  I wondered if Jonathan’s bus was really coming or if it was also literally stuck somewhere.

A considerate ward member called to give us an update (thanks to the still-stuck KES bus) which I then relayed to my neighbor.  The BSIS bus was still en route but would probably take another 45 minutes – 1 hour.

I tried to get my mind on something else but just couldn’t.  I couldn’t focus, couldn’t relax.  I felt compelled to search out any information I could find so I turned to the PTA Facebook page.  There I read that a major road between us and BSIS was blocked because a city plow was stuck.  That did not help my anxiety one bit.

A few minutes later I learned that the bus would be dropping the children off at our neighborhood clubhouse, a mile away from us.  A few minutes later I got a phone call from Jonathan.  The bus driver was trying to get a message to another parent, a friend of ours, so Jonathan was allowed to use the driver’s personal phone to call.  Hearing his voice was so wonderful!  It didn’t completely ease my fears, but definitely helped.

My neighbor was still out with her preschooler.  In the two hours since she’d picked up her daughter she’d only been able to make it one and a half miles – what would usually be 3 minutes’ worth of driving.  Meanwhile, the car in front of her kept spinning on the ice.

Bryan trekked down to the clubhouse.  Honestly, I wanted to go.  I wanted to get my missing son and bring him home again.  But Bryan reminded me that Aaron needed me more here at home.  :)  Bryan was able to pick up Jonathan, the neighbor boy, and two other children who lived nearby.  Many more children were sitting on the bus, still waiting for their parents or *someone* who could get them.  Many parents were still trying to make their own way home.  Within a few minutes Bryan was able to walk Jonathan and the three other children to each respective home.  Jonathan arrived home just over four hours after he left his school.

Finally, finally our family was safely together again.

As the day continued to unfold on the Internet and in the news, I realized how lucky we were.  Many of my friends had at least one family member still stuck, even into the evening and overnight.  At least two had no way to contact the missing family member and no idea where he was.  Even those with cell phones were struggling as many cell calls were not connecting, probably due to the unexpectedly high demand.

The roads had iced over.  Plows and salt trucks weren’t able to re-treat them because of the gridlock.  Many cars were being abandoned on the side of the road, some because of accidents or running out of gas, others simply so the drivers could find a warm place to spend the night.  Hotels were packed, filled to capacity and probably beyond, as were many stores which had kindly opened their doors to the stranded travelers.  It was so wonderful to have our family together, but I ached for the many, many others whose families were still separated.  I wanted so much to be of help – we had a warm house with plenty of room and warm food – but felt so helpless to do anything useful.  Many did though, and those stories are very sweet to read.  :)

Schools remained closed for the rest of the week.  Wednesday it was still very icy, Thursday it was less so but the roads were still pretty dangerous due to all the abandoned cars now being picked up.  But by Friday most of the city was back to normal again, though schools remained closed (probably more because of the backlash from their choice on Tuesday than anything else).

Once Wednesday mid-morning came and I knew most people were safe again, I was finally able to truly relax and enjoy the time off.  And the kids enjoyed it too.  :)

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Emma, all ready to go play in the snow, complete with my snow boots from my high school years. Yes, she can wear *my* snow boots. Crazy.

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Jonathan finishing a “family job” (sorting laundry) so he can also go play.

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Jonathan’s old snow boots are now some of Abigail’s favorite pieces of clothing. But she refuses to put on her coat. Refuses. This jacket is the best I can get on her.

I caught a few pictures of them playing outside:

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I caught these pictures at just the right moment.  I didn’t know he was planning a design!  I saw him jump, purposefully disconnecting from the other tracks.  It was so fun to watch once I realized what he was doing.  :)

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And here are the three older ones in their full winter get-up – complete with mom and dad’s old snow gloves, the wonderful winter hats courtesy of Uncle Brandon (from his mission to Peru), and bags over the feet for those without snow boots.  Did I mention that we don’t usually get snow in Georgia?  :)IMG_1596

The experience of waiting for Jonathan gave me an insight that I’d never had before.  While I was trying to get my mind off of my worry I decided to read the February Visiting Teaching Message that had just come, to prepare to share it with my visiting teaching sisters.  It was “The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Good Shepherd.”  As I read both it and the linked scriptures, I suddenly got a deeper glimpse of the meaning of “leaving the ninety and nine to seek after the one.”

Here I was, safe and comfortable.  And the majority of our family was safe and comfortable as well.  Maybe not 99%, but still, all but one.  Yet I couldn’t relax and just enjoy it.  I couldn’t just say, “Oh well, we have most of us.”  I couldn’t stop thinking about the one who was missing, and couldn’t help but do all within my power to try to find him and, when the time came, get him (albeit with the help of my fellow “shepherd”).  And I realized that this is how our Father and our Savior see us.  They care about us individually and want us *all* to be safely cared for in the flock.  They do not look at a group of their children and say, “Well, we have most of them.  That’s good enough.”  They care about each one.  Even if only one were missing, they would still go after that one.

At the same time, they do not abandon the rest to go after the one.  Just as when Bryan went to get Jonathan he left the other children in good hands (well, my hands), so also does the Good Shepherd not just abandon the flock but makes sure it is still cared for as He searches out the wanderers.  It made me think of how we are all called to help the Good Shepherd.  Some are asked to seek after the lost ones.  Some are asked to help carry them home.  And some are asked to stay and watch over the rest of the flock, caring for and nurturing them and guiding them that they are not also lost.  The roles may be different, but all are important – even vital – in carrying out His work.

And that’s what I learned from the Snowpocalypse of 2014.

2 Responses to “The Snowpocalypse of 2014”

  1. As usual–a very entertaining story. Abigail’s reaction to the snow was so cute. We just had a snowstorm here (a very mild winter so far) I was just thinking of the way we used the snow to play, but here I didn’t see any snow forts or “Fox and Geese” tracks, etc. We were pretty tough kids! I’m glad your family got to experience some of the fun of snow. And your “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” analogy was cool.

    Love,

    Gramma

  2. Thank you, Gramma!

    I’m amazed you haven’t had a ton of snow out there! I remember trying to build an igloo with the snow on the side of our driveway (deeper because of clearing the driveway). I didn’t stay out in it too long. I prefer being warm. :) (But not too warm either – I’m picky I guess.)

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