Matlock and the Atlanta Snowpocalypse

It doesn’t snow often in Atlanta, so when snow began to fall on Tuesday, January 28, the Matlock staff were quite excited to see the white flakes, that are usually only enjoyed by our friends in the northern states. Our celebration for snow would be short lived as what we thought would be a celebration of a mere 2 inches of snow, turned into a harrowing feat of survival. Below are first-hand accounts of how a few Matlockers survived the Atlanta “Snowpocalypse.”

Ashley Ihesiaba, Account Coordinator: I was the most excited person in the office about the snow. I even commented on how I couldn’t wait to see it when I’d woken up that morning. When I left the Matlock offices I immediately knew that this snow fall was a bit different. The snow was coming down unusually hard for what is normal in Georgia. I commute to work by train and found myself unable to safely walk the short distance to my train station as the sidewalks and roads were completely iced over. Cars were sliding and stalled on the side of the road and my train station was closed. I was directed to walk a few blocks to another station that unfortunately was also closed. This happened two more times. The tracks were unsafe for the trains to continue running. During the time it took me to trek back and forth to different train stations, the entire rail system had closed. I feared that I would be trapped in Atlanta overnight.

                Eventually, the trains began to run again, however the worst was yet to come. My normally 10 minute drive from the train station to my home took over 3 hours. I feared running out of gas as I watched my meter go from a half tank to two notches away from E. At the 2 hour mark of virtually no movement in traffic, I considered parking my car and walking home. Luckily a few good Samaritans were able to move all of the stalled cars out of the way and I made it home. I was frustrated, but when I turned on the news and saw the severity of other people’s situation, I counted myself lucky.

Jasmine, Account Coordinator: I was coming into the office from a meeting as the first snow fell. I was returning to the office when the snow began to fall more heavily.  Due to the flurry, MARTA had already begun to run on a delayed schedule, which made my commute from my meeting to the office a little over an hour.  To make things worse, once I arrived at the train station near the office I received the company wide email stating that we would be closing early.  Feeling frustrated I went back to the station, but by the time I arrived, the station was closed. I, along with hundreds of other commuters, had to walk to another station nearby. There were a lot of people angry and confused as no one seemed to know what was going on. I boarded the first Northbound train operating, but to my dismay it was the wrong one. An hour after I’d disembarked from that train I was able to board the correct train and make it to my station. Tired and frustrated, I made it to my car and remained in traffic for 2 hours! Did I mention my normal commute is only three minutes?  The grocery stores in my area were closed so I had to do my grocery shopping at a pharmacy. After getting the necessary supplies I was able to remain in the safety of my home until the storm was over.

Veronica, Accounts Receivable/Accounts Payable Coordinator: My mother called me the night before the storm encouraging me to pack an emergency bag. I underestimated the weather, but because I have a 19 month old son I packed the emergency bag just in case. Normally I have snacks and 2 bottles of water in my car for emergencies. It was just my luck that I’d purchased a case of water and had been too lazy to take it out of the car. As I was leaving home the day of the storm, I remembered to go back and get his portable DVD player. As the storm hit, the DVD player helped a lot because cars were sliding and I was getting a little freaked out about how I was going to concentrate with the baby in the car. He was also starting to get a little antsy as our normally one hour drive to my mom’s took us four hours, which wasn’t bad compared to other people. I didn’t hear a peep out of him once I started the DVD player and the emergency snacks and case of water helped.

Jennifer, Social Media and Research Assistant: It took me 3 hours to get home and it normally only takes me fifteen minutes. I knew the expressway would be like a parking lot so I decided to take a back road. The back road was congested as well, cars were just inching along. So I took another side street and got stuck behind a school bus full of children; the bus was having a horrible time driving up an icy hill. The school bus was fishtailing and I was terrified that not only would the bus turn over, but that it would hit me in the process. I was thankful when the bus finally made it up the hill safely with the children, and I pulled into my driveway in one piece.

Donald, Executive Vice President: My story was no different than everyone else’s story. I decided to beat the traffic on the highway, by taking a back road. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea as me. Not only was the road congested, but it was also very icy. I lost traction with the road a few times, but compared to other people’s experiences, I considered myself lucky.

Reggie, Associate Creative Director: My drive home took 2.5 hours, which based on other commute times, I was a lucky one. I happened to pass a certain billboard that under the circumstances made me laugh and then feel all the more nervous at the same time. The billboard (pictured below) was one that we’d created for Atlanta Medical Center last year. Thankfully, my premonitions didn’t come true and I made it home without incident. 

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Kirstin, SVP & General Manager: It took me nine hours and twenty minutes to get home (my typical commute is 18 minutes). I parked my car and walked the final ¾ mile. I also had a friend who was unable to get to her house but was able to make it to mine & stayed until Thursday afternoon once the roads were more drivable. I saw lots of crazy stuff, including:  wrecks, people spinning out of control, people driving on the wrong side of the street, but the most crazy thing I saw were people trying to push cars up a hill.

Simon, Senior Account Executive: I ventured out into the cold to save a stranded friend/retrieve a locked-in dog, I found utter chaos outside. Abandoned cars where everywhere, I took pictures with my phone.  

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Candice, Agency Coordinator: I was one of the very lucky one’s as I had little difficulty during the snow storm. I commute by train to work; and when I arrived at the station, my train line was the only one still operating. I was able to make it home in 30 minutes!

Cheree, Creative Services Manager: Like other Matlockers I had an extended commute, but one aspect of my journey that may be slightly unique. My way home included “good Samaritans & driving lessons” that would be my ultimate ticket to making it safely home.

After the Agency’s early dismissal, I decided it may be best not to take the highway. Instead, I chose to take the back roads home, thinking it’d be safer. Well, when I finally escaped downtown after three hours of slow starts and stops, I made it to Perry Rd. Any other day, the slight incline this road takes would seem infinitesimal. However, on this day, the road resembled the North face of Mt. Everest. At the base of the road, I began to spin out. I couldn’t gain traction and I ended up perpendicular to the flow of traffic; my car was now blocking both lanes of traffic in both directions. I sat there freaking out because there were cars all around me slipping and sliding on the slick pavement. I just knew someone was going to skid into me. I looked out my window and saw a man pushing a BMW and yelling at the driver to do something. I couldn’t quite make it out. I watched as the BMW successfully gained purchase and shot up the hill. I was so jealous. Then there was a tap on my window. It was the same guy who had just assisted the other driver. I lowered my window and he explained that he just wanted to help. I asked if he worked for the city. He said, “No. I’m just trying to get home.”He then instructed me to “cut the wheel hard and get into the tracks in between the ice left by other cars, don’t ease up on the gas, just keep gunning it.” I did as he instructed and after a few tries, I was up the hill. YES!!!

Once over the hill the road is straight and flat until… the decline. I’m almost home free. I start to make the final turn to get on the road that leads me home, and there’s a decline before the light. On any other day, this would be no big deal. On this day, however, I felt like I was cresting a Six Flags roller coaster, afraid to look. I skid and slipped and eventually just stopped and put on my hazards. I was not going to risk rolling into on-coming traffic or slamming into someone’s mailbox. There were two men sitting on their porch, sipping beers, and watching the madness unfold. It really was comical. Hey, I’m not ashamed. I was born and raised in the South so why should I know what to do in a snow storm? But I digress. One of the men came to my window and told me, “Honey, you can’t slam on your brakes. You’ll lock them up and keep sliding.” Completely distraught and at the end of my rope, I looked up with slightly teary eyes and asked, “What do I do?” He instructed me to pump my brakes instead of keeping them locked and once I made it to the foot of the hill he told me to release the brake completely and coast into my right-hand turn. It was flawless.

Finally on my street I remained stuck there in stop and go traffic for another 2 ½ hours. Upon reaching my complex, it hit me that the entrance after crossing the gate includes a steep decline followed by a rapid incline that sports a speed bump right at its apex. Combining all of the lessons I had learned on my journey (drive in existing tracks, pump your brakes… don’t brake and coast… don’t accelerate) I was able to navigate the tortuous hill and make it safely home.

My journey began at 1:45pm. I pulled into my parking space outside my residence at 6:33pm. No bodily injury and a scratch on my bumper. I was one of the lucky ones. See my pictures of the day’s events below.

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