Yesterday's below-freezing temperatures and precipitation brought a significant amount of ice and snow to Birmingham, Alabama, causing many who ventured out in the winter storm to abandon their vehicles on freeways; the local police has had limited mobility because of the storm, and many stranded residents have taken to social media to seek help.
Hundreds of abandoned vehicles have jammed several main highways in Birmingham in the past couple of days, making it difficult for police to help rescue those who might be stuck in the cold. The Shelby County Sherriff's Office released a statement this afternoon, warning residents that there are solid sheets of ice on the roads. "All roadways are still impassable and closed. Only emergency vehicles should be on the road," they say, asking residents to use common sense and to have patience as they wait for roads to clear.
Seeing so many people call out for help on social media sites, Trey Edwards and other residents of Birmingham created a Facebook page called "Stranded Motorists Help Jan 28, 2014," where those stranded in the ice can notify people of their whereabouts. Residents are then able to sign up on Google Docs spreadsheets to help rescue those nearby who are in need of assistance.
— Marie Sutton (@marieatuab) January 29, 2014
So far, there have been around 200 people who have used the Google Docs spreadsheets to ask for help. Several of the people who have been rescued thus far have left thank-you notes to the Good Samaritans who helped bring them to safety. "A Good Samaritan pushed cars up a hill under Red Mountain Express Way for 5+ hours yesterday, and I'd like to thank him," Grace Anthony writes.
Sarah Parish McCoy also posted her story on the Facebook page - she was pulled from a ditch twice by a man with a truck. "There were 4 wheelers out pulling smaller cars too. It was scary, but so nice to see the true concern for your neighbors, to get out in the cold and rescue people when you could be inside safe and warm. Much appreciated," McCoy says. She also noted that her church, The Connection, helped gather children from school, and fed anyone who was able to reach them last night.
"A sweet elderly man walked down a large hill from his house to the road offering those of us stuck on 39 just past Chelsea Recreational park his home/potty/food/drink yesterday afternoon," wrote a grateful Tracie Rowe.
Jessica Mills Earnest is pregnant with twins, and she and her husband had decided to walk to shelter after being stuck on an icy road. After going four miles, they learned that the subway was closing and that the police might not be able to help them. "At that point I was panicked," Jessica writes - but then, an elderly couple offered to take them home. "Mr. Randall and Mrs. Debby, thank you so much for getting us home safe. God bless you," she wrote.
A local Chick-fil-A restaurant also distributed chicken sandwiches to those stuck in traffic Tuesday; meanwhile, churches have opened up for those in need of shelter, warmth, and food. Pastor David Platt of The Church at Brook Hills tweeted this afternoon, "B'ham: If stranded in your car, dial 211 for information on area shelters (including @Brook_Hills), warming centers, & EMA." Some churches have even turned into triage Emergency Rooms with trained staff on hand for those in need of medical attention.