Coping with the Snow

Abandoned cars line Crestwood Blvd. on the east side of Birmingham


Roads across the Birmingham area remain slick a day after snow blanketed a wide swath of Alabama. At least five people have died in weather related accidents. Some parents are still trying to get to children sheltering in schools. With many cities and businesses essentially shut down, people are trying to cope with the weather as best as possible.

Willie Davis, for one, has a snow story. He was downtown Tuesday and became stranded.

"[Then] I ran into somebody I knew that was getting off from their job and they gave me a lift. But it took approximately three hours from downtown," said Willie.

That's only about four miles.

Davis is walking along Fifth Avenue South to a convenience store to buy a soda. It's his first time out in the snow since making it home.

"I enjoy looking at it," Willie said. "I don't like all the problems it's caused. But it shut down a city. Other than that I like it."

Inside the store, a half-a-dozen people quietly line up to buy food, cigarettes and energy drinks. One woman hands a 20 to the cashier and then sweeps her mound of popcorn, snickers and other snacks into a plastic bag.

Despite the burst of activity, the cashier says the snow is bad for business. There would normally be a lot more people here he says.

Outside it's quiet but not silent. Trucks occasionally drive by and people are out walking. Abandoned cars cling to the side of Crestwood Boulevard. Inside Alison Jenkins' home it's much livelier.

She's Director of Children's Ministries at Avondale United Methodist Church, but for the moment there are 10 people in her house, six of them children under six. A couple of staff members and their kids, plus a child whose parents couldn’t pick him up.

"We're just doing lots of feeding and lots of picking up after kids and trying to keep kids entertained," Jenkins said.

One of those stranded is Kelly Gearheart. She spent seven hours in her car with her three month old daughter trying to get home to Helena before turning around. Her son is a kindergartener who spent the night at school. Gearheart's husband was out of town. She is still in a daze.

"We slept," Gearheart said. "I've been talking with my husband. Talking to the school. Just watching the news mostly."

She says her husband is heading to pick up her son, but then a few minutes later she gets a text. Her husband is now stranded and she doesn't know where.

As families and drivers work through the chaos spawned by the snow, others took the opportunity for fun.

Curtis Keller gets a little air as he rides an antique sled down a hill at Crestwood Park. He grew up in south Mississippi and moved to Birmingham from Tampa, so this is his first time sledding.

"Even adults around here they see snow, you know, a few times in a lifetime. And so you're never too old to have fun," said Keller. "Better than staying at home watching the news all day."

Keller says he hopes the ice does melt since so many people are still stranded. He adds he and his friends are fortunate to be able to have this outing. Not everyone can do that.

~ Andrew Yeager, January 29, 2014