Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ice Saves the Day for Many in Dunwoody

When many people acquire a new possession they often name said possession.  Babies fall into this category, as do pets.  Some people name their cars and trucks, and probably bicycles.  I acquired an Arctic Cat ATV a while ago, but never named it.  It's been to deer camp many times.  It's taken the kids for a short spin around the yard. It's been hauled on a trailer for many miles.  It's a 1999 Arctic Cat and its name new name is ICE. 


ICE ran hard yesterday for nearly 12 hours, starting at 2 PM on January 28, and not stopping (except for refueling) until I shut him down at 1:30 AM on January 29.  ICE was solid all night.

Passenger #1
ICE began his day around 2 PM when one of my kids wanted to go to a friend's house.  The friend resides about a mile away; usually a 3 minute drive in the minivan.  But by 2 PM Spalding Drive in Dunwoody/Sandy Springs was a mess.  The trip was easily going to take an hour round trip.  With the roads packed ICE was called into service.  Little did I know this would be the first (and least important) trek of the day.  We bypassed the friend's neighborhood entrance to venture a little further into Dunwoody.  It was here that ICE was first captured on social media.  A young lady posted us to Instagram somewhere.  I'll try to update later as photos come in.

two happy ladies after being able to catch the last train south from North Springs

Note:  If you have photos of ICE please email to .  Many folks took photos.  These folks were bystanders, witnesses, and passengers.

Passengers #2,3,4
After hearing of her sibling's successful ride through Dunwoody the call came in for another transport.  This time it was three 14 year olds coming home from Peachtree Charter Middle School.

Note: Before I go any further, please note that no one was injured, no one came close to being injured (in my opinion), and nearly everyone enjoyed the rides.  I lost track but ICE assisted between 75-100 people.

Passengers 2,3,4 were supposed to be at the FarmHouse on Vermack.  Seems my oldest child confused FarmHouses and was waiting for me at Dunkin Donuts, across from the main FarmHouse in Dunwoody.  So after waiting a while and a few text messages, ICE was headed back north on Chamblee Dunwoody Rd toward Mt Vernon Road.  But just as ICE got going a lady appeared.  The lady was looking for her daughter (the daughter was driving home from St Pius and Mom was trying to help her in the gridlock on Chamblee Dunwoody Road that would last well into the night).  The St. P. mom from The Branches jumped on back of ICE and off we went. She was passenger 2A.  We made it safely to Dunkin Donuts and off she went, walking the last bit of her journey home to join her children in the warmth of 4-sided Dunwoody brick.  

2,3,4 studied ICE a bit and wondered how were three teenagers going to ride with me for three miles on the back of that thing?  I'm sure there are photos to prove it.  The girls would be dropped off safely at my home - an evening of playing in the rare Atlanta snow ahead of them.  But I need to jump ahead a bit and tell you about these three young ladies.  Sure, they had a little fun in the snow.  But then they realized the catastrophe unfolding on Spalding Drive.  Cars and passengers stranded for hours.  Many of these cars were filled with school kids.  Many were thirsty.  The girls went into action, boiling water and making hot chocolate.  When the hot cocoa ran out, they passed out bottles and cups of water.  They emptied our pantry, handing out snacks to stranded motorists.  I'm proud of the actions of these young ladies. 

Not to be outdone, my excellent neighbor and his four kids set up a drink/snack stand in front of our neighborhood on Spalding.  A huge white board said "Water.  How can we help?" When ICE and I returned at 1:30 AM the stand was still there, but the drinks were all gone - a good thing.  This was not the only water stand we saw.  Over on Roberts Drive, up the street from Austin Elementary School, Dunwoody homeowners were out helping motorists with pushes, water, and snacks.  It was over on Roberts where I saw pine straw being tossed on the road.  Pine straw that usually accents the beautiful homes was now helping tires gain traction on the solid sheet of ice known by the name Roberts Drive.

water station on Roberts in Dunwoody

Passengers 5,6
After dropping off 2,3,4 ICE and I went back out for a spin.  We headed toward Passenger 1's drop off location.  This was still early in the day, plenty of sunlight above, but cars now bumper to bumper on Chamblee Dunwoody Road near Redfield, crawling toward Spalding.  Two 20-something females were parking their car, opting to hike the final 2.5 miles to their home off Pitts Road in Sandy Springs.  Like many, they were not really dressed the part.  ICE and I had them jump aboard and off we went.  The two work at a sports bar down in Perimeter and they invited me down for a beer once the weather improves.  

As 5 & 6 were loading a gentlemen with a briefcase offered me $100 for a ride up to Roswell.  I told the guy I would try and get back to him, but money was not accepted.  I regret not making it back to help this guy, but I was only going to take him to Roswell Road anyway.  I created an artificial boundary in my head once the whole thing started.  I needed to stay close to home in case my family needed me, and ICE is an aging ATV.  The last thing I wanted was to have a breakdown miles form my own home.  My longest trip of the night, made twice, was from the North Springs MARTA station to the Quick Trip on Dunwoody Place.  My route was probably about 5 miles.  It was on one of these runs that ICE and I transported a pregnant lady and her friend.  Dunwoody Place was the worst road I witnessed in 12 hours of driving.  It was a mess all night.

Many of my trips were to and from the MARTA station.  I'd find people walking on Spalding, trying to find the MARTA station.  After dropping off each time I'd find people leaving the train, headed north to an apartment or house.  One lady ICE hauled had a suitcase and was headed to a friend of a friend's place on Peachtree Dunwoody.  "A friend of a friend", I asked?  The young lady told me how she could not get a hotel, no cabs were servicing the MARTA station, so she took to one of her social media accounts (Facebook, I think) to find a place to stay.  Someone posted a name and cell number for a friend residing close to the MARTA station, and off we went.  She took several photos so I'm sure they are floating around somewhere.

most popular routes Ice and I took Tuesday night

I really wish I had one of those GO Pro camera mounted on my head that night. One of those needs secured before the next big event. Perhaps by then Ice will be replaced by a new Bad Boy Buggie.  

It was at this MARTA station that I first encountered a police officer (Sandy Springs).  Of course riding an ATV on the roads of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs is not something you should do (not that I am admitting to such behavior), but the officer thanked me and ICE for helping out folks needing a ride.  It was the first of three encounters with Sandy Springs police and all of them were great.  I did see Dunwoody police cars, but neither of us stopped to say hello as we all had jobs to perform.  

GA 400 northbound, from Pitts Road bridge, late a t night

GA 400N

As we cruised Spalding, Peachtree Dunwoody, and Roberts many people had deserted their cars and were walking.  many ran out of gas.  So to whom do we offer rides?  Early on it was decided to help women and children first.  If a guy looked healthy and dressed okay for the cold, we let him walk.  Children?  Yes, lots of children. Woodland Elementary is down the road.  Parents could not get there, buses could not get there easily.  Parents were walking to get their kids - as late as 9:00 PM. maybe later.  These kids with parent were whom we were looking for on our trips.  We took many home.  I'm sure many of these parents will be asking why school was not dismissed earlier in Fulton.  Later that night I saw a pack of teachers (8 of them), walking to a friend of a friend's home to spend the night.  I need to apologize again to them for not having a bottle opener.  I came upon them after one of my drop-offs near Quick Trip.  In addition to buying fuel for ICE there, I strapped on a 12 pack of  non-twist-off bottles of Corona.  A guy does have his priorities.  Quick Trip does not sell Hoeegarden nor Allagash White.

Hundreds of people are thankful there is now a sidewalk on Spalding (400 bridge to Roberts).  Thanks to City of Dunwoody and sandy Springs for that precious sidewalk.

Fuel was never much a concern early on.  I had about 15 gallons of gasoline on hand from the big storm last summer.  ICE drank it up all night.  We also came upon a guy, his buddy, and a 6 year-old who had run out of gas on Chamblee Dunwoody Road near Harris Circle.  We grabbed a 2.5 gallon can from home base and fed it to the small white car.  I think the kid's name was Cameron.  A couple of guys helped me push the car up the slight incline and off they went.  The guy took my number and said he's getting me a bottle of Crown.  I hope they made it home safely.

There's a Baby In Your House
What?  I'd stop by home to see the wife and check on the kids every 90 minutes or so.  My wife would have dry, warm gloves for me.  As I approached home on one of the return visits I saw my neighbor on his bicycle.  He told me a nice lady was at my house with a 3 month old baby.  Her car was stuck on my street and the baby needed fed.  The lady was the babysitter and had no formula. The babysitter had just missed her own daughter (age 6) being picked up by her neighbor at Woodland. My awesome neighbor rode his bike a few miles to CVS or Walgreens and bought a bottle and some formula.  Later I would pick up the dad from a mile away.  When I stopped home around 10 PM baby, babysitter, and dad were gone.  One of my kids tried to explain how/why/when they left, but her words were all jumbled, like when she tries telling me an exciting story from a volleyball trip.  My neighbor also purchased frozen pizzas at the store.  He baked the pizzas and his kids handed out slices to stranded motorists.

There's a stranger in the guest bedroom
Along our journeys we felt so bad for all the people we could not help.  Helping someone kept us warm inside, but what about the 10 people ICE could not hold?  That was the toughest part of the night.  I prefer to stay home during snow/ice and dominate my family in game of Yahtzee and Super Boggle.  But what kept us going is the 'what if?'.  What if it was my wife stuck in her car.  What if those kids were mine?  I'd sure hope someone would help.  About passenger 40 or so was a nice lady from Cobb.  No way was she getting home.  She told me of her job interview earlier in the day.  She thought it went well.  Now here she was - skirt, heeled boots, no hat, no gloves.  Stuck away from her husband and kids.  The road ahead blocked with a rental truck hauling a trailer, and many miles of logjams ahead.  Her options were limited.  She is now sleeping in our downstairs guest bedroom.  My wife and her chatted for an hour or so on the couch, so I'm told.  Like many, she has a story for January 28, 2014.

They'll be many discussions in the future and all that failed last night.  One thing for sure, had there been a temporary shelter established somewhere I could have taken assisted a lot more people.  ICE was not alone tonight.  A couple other ATVs were out in Dunwoody helping others.  Any many other people in Dunwoody helped our neighbors and visitors.  


Pattie Baker said...

I am proud to call you my friend, Rick. Thank you for all you do and all you are. I have never known an occasion when I or anyone else has needed help when you weren't one of the first to show up. You are necessary.

Reid Horne said...

way to pay it forward ! Loved your article !

Pattie Baker said...

Also, just heard from Kimberly at City Hall that none of the City of Dunwoody's three Red-Cross-approved locations were activated last night, but that the Perimeter Home Depot(Sandy Springs) and two churches--Kingswood and First Baptist were offering shelter and were being recommended to anyone in need, although none of those are really within your 5-mile circle, I don't think..

Anonymous said...

You're a good man, RC.

Kim Kukler said...

Rick - you and your family always make things happen - you really are terrific! Also just saw the PCMS posting by Heneghan showing their fundraiser with LC pictured - you and DC are raising kids to be proud of!!

Max said...

I discovered that MARTA driver Claudio spent from 8:30PM to 11:30AM on his bus at Tilly Mill, stuck just below Peeler. I wish I had known. A stranger in a Ford Silverado 4X4 pulled the buss loose with a chain. Looked like a Ford commercial.

Dunwoody ROCKS!

Terry Nall said...

Thank you Rick for your tireless effort to serve so many strangers in need during this ice storm. You brought comfort and solutions to many who struggled to return to normalcy Tuesday night.

dpgroupie said...

Great job Rick! Thank you for helping so many!

Anonymous said...

You rock! So glad you gave up the opportunity to win, yet again, another game of "Yahtzee and Super Boggle". I'm sure the folks that you rescued will always remember your kindness. You are an example to us all. Dunwoody is lucky to have you. --NJ

page olson said...

rick, you do rock! and so does your family. what a role model you are! once we all get that we are here to serve and value each other, our challenges become solvable. am so proud!