Members of the Tech Community Share Their Stories
It’s the kind of day that you’ll never forget. Last Tuesday, faculty, staff, and students headed to work and class unaware of the chaos to come when campus closed at 1:30 p.m. Some made it home within a few hours, while others were forced to sleep on the side of the road in their cars.
We invited the campus community to send in their stories, images, and videos from SnowJam 2014. Below is a selection of what was shared, edited for length and clarity. (Slideshow images courtesy of Sabrina Wald, Marcella Salem, and Rob Felt)
Video Manager, Office of Information Technology
After getting the "Campus Closed" announcement, my wife (who works at Stamps Health Services) and I headed for our home in Hiram. It took more than an hour to get off campus, and more time rerouting around Atlanta to find open roads to Interstate 20 (I-20). We came to a full stop for two hours in Five Points due to two jackknifed 18-wheelers. Once we got past them, we thought we were home free.
Then we got to Fulton Industrial Boulevard and I-20, where we came to a complete stop until the next morning. Apparently three 18-wheelers were blocking all westbound lanes.
We had about a quarter of a tank of gasoline at that point. We took stock of our supplies: heavy coats, two blankets (for just such an emergency), one pack of salted peanuts, the leftovers from my wife's lunch, and half a bottle of water. We tried to use what we had to the fullest. We would wait until the cold got really bad, then start the van until the heater would warm the interior, and then turn it off to conserve fuel.
Finally, at 7:51 a.m. Wednesday, traffic began to move, and we were able to exit. After a meal and some warming up, we got back on I-20. By the time we made it to Hiram, it was at 12:30 p.m., almost 24 hours since we left Tech.
Graduate Student, College of Architecture
Waking up on Wednesday, my friends and I heard that there were a number of vehicles still stuck on Interstate 285 (I-285).
A three-hour commute home the day before now seemed pretty petty. So we threw on our snow gear, piled into a vehicle with 4-wheel drive, and headed to Publix.
We then walked to I-285 and were astounded by the line of cars and 18-wheelers that were parked. We began walking down the interstate passing out bottled water, snacks, and coffee. Everyone was in surprisingly great moods given that they had sat still for more than 25 hours.
People asked the six of us if we were a part of some ministry or something, to which we could only reply, “Nah, we are just some people who saw that people needed help. It just seemed right.”
Administrative Assistant, Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering
I left Georgia Tech at 12:30 p.m. and arrived to my exit in Lithia Springs at 4:25 p.m. Several hours later, I finally made it up the off ramp, but the road was blocked.
My husband and 13-year-old son walked the two miles to meet me. When they saw that cars couldn't make it over the hill, they helped people get going again by showing them how to put their car in low gear, straighten the tires, and with a little push set them on their way.
Once they cleared the area, they joined me in the car and we made it home by 8:30 p.m. There were many drivers thankful for my husband and son, who “opened up” Lee Road.
Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
I can report that my SnowJam commute by bike was rather unaffected by the weather and resulting traffic gridlock. Here is a video of my ride home to Kirkwood from the Ford ES&T Building: https://vimeo.com/85311982 .
Professor, School of Interactive Computing
I left campus about 1:30 p.m. I live in Cobb County, so I drive up Interstate 75. Usually, it's about a 30-minute commute if traffic isn't heavy.
Around 8 p.m. I finally got up closer to my exit. It looked like a bus and a truck had spun out and blocked the exit. After I made it onto my exit, I could see that the next road I needed was packed with cars, so I decided to turn into the grocery store parking lot.
I had a hunch the roads near my house would be bad, so I decided to just walk. I live about 3.5 miles from the store, so I knew it would take a while, but I felt it would be worth it. I had a warm jacket and gloves, but my face and ears really got cold. I came across a young couple who were carrying a pile of ski caps; they asked me if I wanted one, and then just gave it to me. That was so nice of them and really helped for the rest of the walk.
Along the way I stopped to try to help push cars up hills, but the road was so slick that it was hard for us to get any traction. Cars were parked everywhere, along the sides of the road and in subdivisions. Finally, at about 10:15 p.m., I made it home.
It was quite an experience, but compared to many people, I didn't have it too bad. The walk home that night was even kind of enjoyable in an odd way.
Graduate Student, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering
I am a teaching assistant for ME 3057. When I came in Tuesday, I found out school was canceled and left immediately. I live out in Douglasville. I left early enough to miss horrible interstate traffic, but once I got off the interstate we barely moved.
It took me one hour to get to Douglasville, and then in the next two hours I traveled only half a mile. We stopped for gas and were told all the roads in town were blocked with wrecks and abandoned cars. So we decided to walk.
I currently have a broken foot and am walking on crutches, so my boyfriend drives me everywhere. We started the 3.2-mile walk to my house. It was the most exhausting walk of my life. After two miles, someone on an ATV offered to take me the last mile. A commute that usually takes about 40 minutes took me five hours, but I was glad to be home.
Photographer/Videographer, Institute Communications
Lighthearted moments captured around the Georgia Tech campus on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.