Editor’s note: Editor and Publisher David Clemons wrote about the 1993 blizzard in his March 3-4 column. This letter was received in response.
I was the Atlanta warehouse parts manager for a major international company based in Los Angeles at the time, and as they decided to have meetings there, I was to fly out to California the morning of Saturday, March 13, 1995.
I got up that Saturday morning to leave at 6 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. flight. The thermometer on my porch showed 32 degrees and it was absolutely pouring rain when I left for the Atlanta airport
As I got to West Avenue in Conyers it was instantly 6 inches of snow — one place raining and then 6 inches of snow. I had a Japanese four-wheel drive company car and continued to the airport. I called the off-airport park-and-ride facility I usually used — I had an early model cellphone — and they said don’t come here, we have no drivers … so I went to the airport parking lot. I then had to walk about 25 rows with my suitcase, briefcase and a set of golf clubs in ankle-deep snow (because I was going out a day early for recreation).
I checked my bags at the outside Delta check-in and as I walked up the stairs to the terminal Delta started refusing any more checked bags … but my bags were gone inside on the carousel.
The snow was blowing horizontally across the windows when Delta canceled the flight about noon, so I went to the desk and manifest on the same flight for the next day, and I asked where my suitcase and golf clubs were. They said they would be in California the next time I saw them. No one knew it was a storm that it turned out to be another Atlanta unexpected snow event.
I drove home in my four-wheel drive and Interstate 20 from downtown Atlanta to Covington looked like the “death road” out of Kuwait City during the recent 1991 Gulf War, with crashed and abandoned cars, trucks and buses everywhere, hundreds of them, left in all three traffic lanes, but I stayed out of the ruts, maneuvering around them in the 12 inches of snow, and never spun a wheel going home.
I called my LA boss when I got home and told him we were in a blizzard, and while talking to him a pine tree slowly fell and centered my gazebo as I watched and described it to him, and then the power went out. I finally convinced him I wasn’t coming, and to go look at the news.
I got my generator out for my fireplace wood stove insert, running the blower motor, and we had heat, and we cooked on the porch using the separate eye the gas grill has.
Sunday morning I starting calling Delta about 5:30 a.m. about the 9:30 a.m. flight. My house phone had gone out and using my cellphone and was put on hold for 30 minutes — at a connect time of 35 cents a minute back then — and never talked to anyone. My wife said we’ll get power soon, go to your meetings, so I got in my four-wheel drive and drove back to the airport. The snow had stopped and I was almost to the airport, driving about 20 mph when a taxi blew past me, and as I watched it then did about three complete circles and slid slowly backward into the guard rail, and as I passed the cab I could see the driver and the backseat passenger sitting there with eyes as big as saucers.
I got to airport parking, parked in the same spot I left the day before but front tires were up on a 12-inch snow drift. My plane was the first one out as one runway was cleared, and when I got to Los Angeles and sitting next to a window the first baggage that came out of the cargo hold was my golf clubs.
There were to be three different meetings from different divisions to be held in my California headquarters that week and maybe half the East Coast personnel got there, as the storm went north up the coast.
My daughter and wife kept the generator going, the house was warm and they cooked on the gas eye. When I returned home Friday my tires were sitting on the pavement but there was still snow on the ground, and were still many abandoned cars in the freeway emergency lanes.
If I remember correctly Newborn was without power seven days and I had several trees to clean up with my chainsaw.
Looking back, should I have gone to LA? No, but no one knew of the magnitude of the storm and destruction it caused, as historically our snow storms are usually a day or two and gone … but it gives me a story I have told quite often.
Ted Sheldon, Newborn