Local News

January 29, 2014

‘It was a disaster’

Locals stuck in Atlanta gridlock share stories of despair, hope

Betsy Lynch was more than six hours into her usual 12-minute commute when she decided to spend the night in a Kroger grocery store. Then she relied on the kindness of strangers to take her the rest of the way home.

Kyle Coffey took at eight hours to make his 15-minute commute. He ended up abandoning his car and walking the last nearly two miles while carrying his laptop, dog and birthday cupcakes home.

Brian Skelton was stranded in his van with very little gas for more nearly 18 hours.

Jon Davenport took more than 14 hours to make his routine 45 minute commute.

Johnny Goswick pulled over the tractor-trailer he was driving to sleep through the night, just a portion of his 28 hour-adventure.

Ronnie Flener, a diabetic, was approaching 24 hours stranded before kind strangers brought him food.

They all had one thing in common: they just wanted to get home safely through the gridlock caused in Atlanta Tuesday when winter weather paralyzed the city. All are Whitfield or Murray county natives or currently live here.

Their stories are only a small portion of what some people faced. On the Facebook group, “SnowedOutAtlanta” others were facing much dire circumstances: a woman in the car with her 1-year-old down to one diaper, an elderly couple trapped on an interstate without proper gear to keep warm while walking to a shelter, a pregnant woman growing dehydrated after 16 hours in her vehicle.

“It was a disaster,” said Lynch, a Dalton native who now works as a press secretary for the House of Representatives at the Capitol building. “I was really glad to be somewhere I could be inside. I kept hearing stories that were much worse than mine. I was just happy to be there where I could get water and something to eat. I feel rather fortunate in that regard. I know there were people in a lot worse situations and still are. I felt like it was a nightmare, but I know it could have been a lot worse. I was lucky.”

She said the problem in Atlanta was that everyone was sent home after the snow started, resulting in a massive traffic jam.

“It was a mess,” Lynch said. “It was definitely a mess.”

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