Winter Gridlock 2014

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 in Culture

Now that the thaw has begun in Birmingham, I have a few reflections on the past couple of days.

(1) It was proven – Alabamians are untrained in driving in winter weather. However, I will grant a huge pass on this one – this came out of nowhere. We were forecast a dusting, and while 2 or 3 inches is a dusting north of the Mason-Dixon line, when you are unprepared and do not have the equipment, disaster ensues. Around 10:30am on Tuesday, everyone in the Birmingham metroplex realized we were in for more than a dusting. And everyone let schools out. And everyone left work. And everyone tried to get last minute supplies. And everyone got stuck – everyone! Everywhere, everyone. Most roads looked like a parking lot or a junk yard.

(2) It was proven – while Alabamians might struggle to drive in it, they are patient and compassionate in the midst of it. I am sure there is a point of frustration/anger that comes, but then quickly came the realization that all were in this together – and it was not going away. People parked their cars, left them on the side of the road or in the ditch or in the middle of the road, and even in the Cahaba River, and walked. Some for miles just to get their kids at school and walk for more miles. And yet, numerous stories can be found at of the good Samaritans all around the area.

(3) It was proven – school teachers are remarkable servants. Many teachers had to stay overnight in their schools with students. Yes, the Birmingham metroplex had the largest school slumber party in the history of the world. Thousands of kids with teachers and parents. I salute the many principals who performed remarkably.

(4) It was proven – circumstances such as this force you to meet your neighbor and come together. I was able to get out yesterday and spent a good part of the afternoon shuttling people to their stranded cars in the neighborhood. A fireman, an elderly couple, a Hoover High football player, a Hoover High basketball player, a computer engineer. What this demonstrated is that none of us, regardless of social status or age, was exempt. We were in it together, and new friendships were established.

(5) It was proven – the body of Christ is awesome! Churches all over town were open for emergency care. Food and lodging was provided. Like those in the schools, there were no complaints about sleeping on mats when others slept in their cars – in single digit temps. God’s people showed the compassion of Christ and for that I am thankful. People opened their homes for others, provided rides and food and hot chocolate. Chick-fil-a gave out free food for two days for those stranded on the roadside (curse those Christians!).

Birmingham – you have much to be proud of over the past few days. Let’s continue to build on it – now that the ground is clear!


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