As I’m sure you know by now, we in Atlanta suck at dealing with snowstorms. While I will briefly touch on the absurd firestorm in the aftermath, I am more interested in zooming in on the timeline of events, as we have a case study on panic buying and our (or at least our country’s) tendency for misguided over-reaction.

This week, we focus on the storm. And no, we are not using it’s “name.”

1.) Monday. Monday night saw what modern America calls “preparing” for the storm. This largely consists of panic buying and way-too-late pre-treating of major highways and other arteries of the city. For whatever reason, buying stuff hours prior to the storm is “just what people do” in this country. It’s a practice that still baffles me.

2.) Tuesday. Tuesday is when things got interesting. As this timeline from 11Alive shows, schools and the Atlanta government essentially closed at the same time and about an hour or so after the snow started falling. This led to a surge of traffic in quickly-deteriorating road conditions. At around 2:00 PM, reports of widespread gridlock started to emerge. That gridlock essentially lasted into the following morning, with many literally spending the night stuck in traffic. I personally know one man who had to walk from Kennesaw to Marietta. How he managed to come to class on Friday I’m still not sure.

3.) Wednesday. With the snow mostly gone, many cars on the road abandoned, and gridlock still on the roadways, Wednesday was essentially a day for the government to catch up on clearing out the roads. With a State Of Emergency declared (and frankly, with traffic at an unprecedented dead stop) many schools simply did not open Wednesday, or Thursday. Temperatures remained below freezing the entire day. It should be noted that, while there were power outages, they were not widespread, and many areas still had all the basics.

4.) Thursday. Temps briefly passed freezing, and most of the city had gotten into a shelter. This was largely a wrap up for the city, but already people were looking for someone to blame. Invariably, the main two men taking the flak were Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim (ka-seem) Reed. Now while there is a huge fight over it, I’m not going to wade into that. Both because it is largely irrelevant (there is no “one” party to blame for all this) and because it is at best a cover for the ignorance of everyone else.

5.) Samaritan. While the overall picture is bleak, there is one element I want to draw attention to for different reasons. The aftermath of the storm saw amazing gridlock, and a paralyzed city. At the same time, many who were not in the gridlock took it upon themselves to help those who were. In addition, as it was used in West, Texas, social media saw people coordinated efforts to help stranded motorists. At the apex of the storm, Home Depot announced plans to keep many of its stores open overnight in case people needed shelter. While the national media focuses on the politics and who is to blame, I prefer to focus on the people working to make the best of a horrid situation.

6.) Aftermath. I bring all this up to pose a number of questions. As I have said in the past, all major events have tactical value to the prepper or survivialist. That statement is no different here. What would you do in that situation? If you were one of the people stuck in traffic for twelve to eighteen hours, how would you manage that and would you eventually abandon the car? What about those around you? In my opinion, the purpose of prepping, the purpose of survivalism as a whole, is to rely on one’s self regardless of what happens and, as we saw all over Georgia, sometimes that also means rolling with the events, and helping others out in the process.

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