Now that the sun has returned and reminded me that winter won’t last forever, I feel so much better. The last two weeks have been tough for those of us who live in southern states like Georgia. If you’re like me, until recently, you could count the number of times you’ve felt temperatures in the single digits and the number of times you’ve seen snow, sleet, or icy weather conditions on one hand.
Two weeks ago, I didn’t think much about the winter weather conditions predicted for Atlanta and the surrounding areas. But then the snow began to fall fast, stick, and accumulate, and within just a few hours, the sky darkened, the temperature dropped, and everything changed. Suddenly, I realized that even though I was safe at home and my husband and children were engaged in their routine evening activities, there were dangerous and scary situations developing on all major interstates and secondary roads all around us. If you turned on a television, checked a notification from any news source, or spoke with anyone living in the Atlanta area, you know what happened. I don’t need to rehash it. It was an all out crisis for the city and the state! Little did we know what was headed our way the day before…
At 1700 hours, all members of the family were home and confirmed receipt of a winter storm warning for our area. The children had received word in the hallways and when their teacher’s back was turned during class. I had received notification by phone from my mother along with explicit instructions regarding preparation. The husband had been made aware of the hazardous weather coming our way when he came upstairs after finishing his work day.
At 1900 hours, it was agreed that a trip to the neighborhood grocery store was while not desirable, indeed necessary. A short list was prepared, and we hustled up the street to acquire the goods and hopefully, to avoid any issues related to scarcity. Once the oldest son and I arrived at the store, things did not go as planned. We forgot all about our list and proceeded to walk up and down each and every aisle in the store. There was absolutely no rational reason for abandoning our list and acting as if there was no plan at all. We watched people load up their shopping carts, but we pushed our nearly empty cart from one end of the store to the other, barely touching anything. You’d think that we’d have focused on getting critical items such as water, peanut butter, nuts, fruits, granola, cereal, bread, and an assortment of other non-perishables. That would’ve made perfect sense, but we just strolled about as if it was just another Monday evening at the grocery store.
At 1945 hours, we checked out, returned home, and unloaded a single shopping bag of what we felt were essential items for surviving a snowstorm: Pop Tarts, Lunchables, and a jar of Smucker’s Jelly.
At 2000 hours, the husband announced that he would be in charge of rations if we found ourselves snowed in for multiple days with no power and limited food and water.
At 2001 hours, I took an inventory of foods that could be eaten I if we lost power.
2% Milk–2 cartons
Almond Butter–1 jar
Almond Slivers–.50 bag
Chocolate Candy–.50 bar
Ice Cream–1 gallon
Peanut Butter–2 jars
Pop Tarts–2 boxes
Rice Milk–1 carton
Soy Ice Cream–3 mini sandwiches
Soy Milk–.50 carton
Sparkling Water–3 bottles
At 2006 hours, I seriously wondered whether or not I should hide all of the foods I like in the house where no one would think to look. I mean really, I was in a house with an ex-military man and two male teens, who eat just because the food is there. No one was going to stop to think about the vegetarian in the house. Clearly, I needed a strategy to survive. I had to think quickly…
If the power goes out, do not hesitate. Grab the soy ice cream and chocolate cookies first. Leave the regular ice cream, sorbet, and yogurts of any kind behind. The yogurts are packed with protein, but you’ll get over it and even make up for it with almonds, cashews, and granola, oh my! Peanut butter, yuck! Let them fight over it because almond butter is way better with crackers and sparkling water will be perfect to wash them down. When they go for the 2% milk, grab the rick milk, at least one box of cereal, and an entire box of Pop Tarts. They aren’t as quick as you. By the time they divide up the milk and other refrigerated items, you will have already moved on to the chocolate candy bar and M&Ms. They probably won’t even remember that we have these goodies. If one of them spots you going for the chocolate candy, just run. Run upstairs to your room and lock the door. After you’ve hidden everything, negotiate half-heartedly, and then give up. Unlock the door and go about your business as usual until everyone is asleep. Then, go back to the kitchen and eat the blueberries. You know they can’t last very long unless you store them outside on the patio in the snow, and let’s face it, you’re not going to do that. Suck it up! It’s about survival. They’ll be alright. You’re leaving the apples, biscotti, bread, cereal bars, jelly, prunes, tuna, and even some soy milk along with other eatables. They’ll figure it out.
At 2008 hours, I snapped out of it and settled into my normal evening routine just like everyone else in the house.
At 1030 hours, I received a call from my mother, who let me know that it was snowing in Cartersville, which is about one hour north of Atlanta. I was working from home and felt quite distant from whatever might be happening outside. Plus, what happens in Cartersville…well, you know the rest. I remained unfazed.
At 1130 hours, the first snowflakes were seen falling outside my window. I immediately contacted the husband to urge him to leave his client meeting immediately, and sent a text message to the children to alert them to be ready to leave school when he arrived.
At 1430 hours, no one had made it home yet, which was crazy. The distance from the school and house is 4.91miles or 12 minutes. I was still working. There didn’t appear to be much snow on the ground outside, so I began to wonder. What was taking so long?
Over the next few hours, images of people sitting in their cars, bumper-to-bumper, going nowhere began to flood networks. My own family finally made it home after being stuck on Peachtree Street for three hours. One of my cousins didn’t make it home until midnight after spending seven hours on Georgia 400, and my nephew almost got stuck at school overnight. It turned out that we were the lucky ones.
Needless-to-say, my light-hearted attitude from the day before changed significantly after seeing the impact the weather had on our city. I’d definitely learned my lesson. When reports of another winter storm headed our way were announced earlier this week, there was no playing around. Just as before, we headed to the neighborhood grocery store and shopped for essential items for surviving a snowstorm, but this time we came home with much more than Pop Tarts, Lunchables, and a jar of Smucker’s Jelly.