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Kindness of strangers helps Rockdale man stuck in snow gridlock
Rockdale residents Christina and Jason Davis turned to the SnowedOutAtlanta Facebook group to help find shelter for Jason, who was stuck in gridlock. - photo by Submitted Photo

While there were many stories of hardship out of the ungodly gridlock of Snowjam 2014, there were also many incidents of incredible kindness and generosity as strangers opened their homes and businesses to help one another.

Rockdale residents Jason and Christina Davis were recipients of this kindness and saw first-hand how a community sprang up in the crisis to help stranded travelers.

Jason got off work Tuesday a little later than usual from his job as a butcher at Fresh Market in Buckhead - about 3:50 p.m. Business was as brisk as shoppers snapped up meats and groceries ahead of the storm.

By the time he got to the parking lot, his car was iced over. "I noticed Roswell Road northbound was bumper to bumper," said Jason. "I called my wife and told her I'm on my way home."

Jason usually takes Roswell Road to Piedmont Road to State Route 400 south, and then Interstate 75 to Interstate 20 east - a route that usually takes about 55 minutes in total.

But on this trip, it took 45 minutes just to get to 400.

Jason, ever the Boy Scout - he leads Pack 410 in Conyers, had made sure to put some water, trail mix, a change of clothes and a sleeping bag in his car when he first heard about the snow several days before. He had been stranded by snow once before when he was working as a sous chef at the Georgia Aquarium and had vowed he'd be prepared next time.

Even so, the couple didn't realize how bad it had gotten out there.

"That's not unusual for Buckhead," said Christina, to be clogged for a bit and then to clear up. "I didn't think much of it."

By 5 p.m., the reality of the situation began to hit them.

Jason said, "On I-75, I'm about a mile away from I-20. I tell my wife I'm not going anywhere, she's not believing me."

Jason sent her his location coordinates from a tracker app on his iPhone.

"I thought this is weird," said Christina. "I thought it'd be a snail's pace but he'd continue to move."

By about 9:30 p.m., he was still on I-75.

"I started thinking this is serious. He's not going to get home," said Christina.

She began asking friends and people from St. Pius X Catholic Church, where she serves as youth minister, to see if anyone knew anyone who lived in the area where Jason was. Nothing turned up.

Finally, someone sent her an invite to the Snowed Out Atlanta Facebook group - a group created to match up people living in the area with commuters stranded by the snow and gridlock. During the height of the crisis, the group swelled to more than 40,000.

Christina posted the location of her husband's car on the map and checked out one offer from a guy in the area. On his Facebook page, the guy had vampire teeth and they weren't Halloween teeth. The Davis' decided to pass on that offer.

By this time, it was nearly 11:30 p.m. Christina, who was at home with their 9-year-old and 4-year-old, knew her husband had been up since 4:30 a.m.

There were no Home Depots or Waffle Houses nearby where he could pull over. So Christina turned to the Snowed Out Atlanta group again.

Therese White, a paralegal, her husband Dave, a consultant, and their baby daughter lived less than a mile from where Jason was.

Therese works in town and her 8 minute commute had taken 45 minutes; she knew she was one of the lucky ones. Her husband got home at the same time and began helping stuck cars in their neighborhood. Therese said, "I heard the horror stories and I was so grateful my husband and baby were safe at home." She joined the Snowed Out Atlanta group. "It was the least we could do, to help out some way."

The Davis' and the Whites got in touch around midnight. It took another two hours for Jason to maneuver past 10 cars to the exit and get to the White residence.

The Whites had a warm meal and a guest bed waiting when Jason finally came in around 2 a.m.

"I wanted to give (Christina) peace of mind, that (Jason) was warm and safe," said Therese.

The next morning, it still took Jason a couple of hours to get through the traffic and down I-20, driving about 15 miles an hour on the icy road.

He called the Whites to let them know he had made it home safely and to thank them. "I said if you ever need anything, I'm indebted to your services forever."

The Whites' hospitality to Jason was only one of many instances that evening in the city.

"It was so awesome that so many people were willing to jump out and help," said Christina. "I know he was one of many people in that area; I feel so blessed."

"It was really powerful to watch people lay down whatever might get in their path of wanting to help and say... you know what, we need to make sure everybody is out of the cold and out of danger."

She summed it up in a message someone had posted on the SnowedOut Atlanta group page. "'Love wins.' That's what it ultimately what it comes down to."