January 29, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014 can't hold Bama down

In case you haven't heard, my part of the world is in a state of emergency because of a little bit of snow that turned our hilly city (minus any infrastructure to salt the roads) into a sheet of ice. I live on the perfect hill to step out of my door and run hill repeats, so you can guess how well driving went there.

The following accidents were all within a mile of my house, mostly just on my hill.

Our cars haven't been to our driveway since the storm started. Parking at the top of the hill became mandatory, or just smart. We were luckily able to get our own children from school (plus a friend who bunked with us), one by car and one by a hike, but because of the unexpected nature of the storm, many children and teachers were at school through the night last night. I have several runner buddies who are teachers, and they deserve mad props for making those kids feel safe and loved through what could have been a scary night. And all with little to no sleep. And kids fart a lot, so there's that too.

When the snow started, I was in the middle of teaching my preschool co-op, and we spent a lot of time staring out the window, mesmerized by seldom-seen snowflakes, which we thought would just be a light dusting. By the time I noticed the first car backslide down my hill and messaged the parents to come get their kids early, it was already too late to get down my hill.

With parents starting to pick them up at 10:30 a.m., the last kids finally made it home via car with friend/friend's car ditch because of impassable roads/hike to friend's house/parental car ditch/parental hike to friend's house/kid hike with parentals, all to walk through the door at 7:30 p.m.

You're probably thinking, why don't these people just get over having to walk somewhere. Actually not a bad point, but with unexpected cold and snow (I wasn't even sure if we had enough gloves for all the kids) and a generally pedestrian-unfriendly infrastructure (like there is no existing crosswalk for the four-lane highway that we would need to cross to pick up my son from a school that is less than a mile away), it is actually pretty dicey for pedestrians in our state. I feel like we're improving, but we are definitely not a walk-friendly community yet. 

My husband got stuck at work downtown, only about 8 miles from our house, but with the conditions of the road, driving home was not a great option. Also, hiking it out in dress shoes and a suit was another bad option. He spent the night on his office floor and then braved the icy roads to home in a friend's car this morning.

Maybe he should start driving one of these to work.

As seen on an average Alabama day.

With abandoned cars lining the sides of every road, people stuck in businesses and schools, and people walking the streets trying to get to shelter, Alabama was in chaos yesterday and most of today, but I could not be more proud of how the people of my state came together and helped each other out. Just stepping outside my own door, I witnessed person after person offering help to their neighbors and total strangers.

I was especially proud of my all my runner friends who were out making it happen. One of my schoolteacher friends reported that her ultra runner boyfriend ran over 10 miles to bring supplies to the overnight crowd at her school (which happens to be the school that my son attends). You can also read about a couple of my BUTS crew members helping each other out HERE.

Plus, many of my distance runner friends were thankful to find old pairs of shoes and socks in their trunks so that when they inevitably had to abandon their cars, they could run it out. Another reason to be thankful for the ability to run. When the world of traffic is melting down (unfortunately, not literally) around you, get your legs moving.

About to use my legs to pick up my son from school.

Also, I have to add that although my husband slept a minimal amount on his office floor, as soon as he made it home to our car with 4WD, he headed straight out to help more of his friends get home. Finally around 5 p.m. today, he walked through the door, ready to eat and conk out. He was very adamant about going back out to help people, even though I asked him a million times if he was sure that was a good idea.

And for anyone who questions stockpiling running shoes, one of my most memorable moments from the storm was when a lady was side-stepping down our icy, steep hill in her high-heeled work boots. She had abandoned her car long before and had a long way to go before she reached home, on foot. I couldn't help her get there any faster, but guess what I did have that she could use. Shoes! And she even wore the same size as me. I ran to my garage and grabbed a pair of trail Salomons for her, and I have never felt better about giving up a pair of shoes in my life. Stockpiling shoes works in emergencies! Feel free to use this example when explaining to your spouse why you need that $50 pair (or two or three) of clearance shoes.

So as you're going about the daily grind, don't pass up the opportunities to help out the people in your community. The needs aren't always as obvious as they are during an emergency, but the way helping out your brothers and sisters warms your heart will feel exactly the same.