1/28/2014 Winter Storm – The story behind the video -
This day started off with me traveling from Alabaster to Montgomery for a service call at the Hyundai plant.
Range Rover & The Peach Water Tower Clanton, AL
Everyone was expecting the snow to hit south of Birmingham, so I packed extra clothes, food, 36 bottles of water, blankets, sleeping bags, etc., into my all-wheel-drive 2001 Range Rover HSE. I had just purchased this car with 111k miles in October for $3,500 . It had a few issues, but I was able to easily repair them myself.
The car dealership at the Peach in Clanton, AL
Travel to Montgomery was a bit slow, but I made it to the plant just fine. I was then told that the plant was shutting down and I’d have to leave. As I headed back home the snow just kept getting worse. I stopped in Clanton and took an aerial photo of the peach water tower/car dealership in the snow.
- Then I called my wife, who works downtown, and she told me there was snow everywhere and sent me this photo:
Photo of the parking lot outside Amber’s Office. Downtown Birmingham.
Ed and Jennifer
I told her to stay put and I would come get her! I saw on Facebook that my cousin Jennifer was stuck at her work too. Since Jennifer was along the way, I went to pick her up also. Right before I got to Vallydale Road on I-65N, I saw a car run off the road in front of me. I pulled over to help, but his car was too far off the road. Ed said that he was heading to his daughter’s in Moody to prepare for cancer surgery on Thursday. I told him I would take him, having no idea what I was in for!
At this point traffic was jammed up. I exited onto Valleydale Road and went around everyone, as they were all stuck due to the roads flash freezing. I came across a woman and her child walking in the snow/ice on Riverchase Parkway and took them to meet their family a few miles up. Traffic was stopped, and the only way to move was to go around everyone. I ended up picking up and transporting several more people to safety before reaching my cousin in Hoover and later my wife downtown. One of my wife’s coworkers was stuck at the office, so I left him a sleeping bag and pillow and took another coworker to a friend’s home. Then my mother called; she had run off the road and was stuck in Avondale. I picked her up and proceeded to head to Moody to drop off Ed. The roads were a thick sheet of ice at this point, and I was just lucky to have good tires with all-wheel-drive. It wasn’t long before my air suspension went out, and so then we were riding on the bump stops. It was a bumpy ride the rest of the night, but the vehicle still handled great on the ice. I rode down Highway 78 all the way to the I-20 interchange, and there was a pile of cars that could not make it up the hill into Leeds. I-20 East was also stopped. I was able to maneuver around all but two cars. I went out to talk to drivers, and they allowed me to try to drive their cars. I first tried to get the vehicles moving forward, but being on that steep hill they would just slide sideways every time I tried to go forward; even lowering the tire pressure did not help. I was only able to move them out of the way to allow me to pass. I felt bad leaving behind so many stuck people, but at least they were right next to two gas stations with food and warmth. I finally dropped off Ed and headed to Irondale to drop off my mom. Then it was off to Helena to drop off my cousin Jennifer. As we traveled down I-459 to US 31 and then to Highway 52, it was like watching scenes from a zombie movie. Abandoned cars were everywhere. Driving slowly along US 31 & 52, checking stuck/wrecked vehicles, I was happy to see no one inside the cars. We finally reached Helena around 1 a.m. and then made it back home to Alabaster along CR17.
The next day I got up early and headed out to search for anyone in need. There was a Facebook group for stranded motorists created by Georgia Smith Slade. I monitored the site, and I was able to help one person who was stuck on I-65 all night and needed his blood pressure meds. I picked up and shuttled many more stranded people that day including my friend Ravinell Wilson, owner of Trading Earth Real Estate, son and daughter-in-law who were taking up refuge overnight at Christ Church United Methodist In between dropping people off I would stop every so often and take some interesting photos and video from the quadcopter. Posted below are some of the photos I took:
Aerial Photos Snowmageddon 2014 South of Birmingham, AL
I have always enjoyed photography and flying. I do a lot of contract IT work for many companies, and my work requires me to travel all over the state. For the past few months I have been taking photos of everything I can think of and sharing them online. Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll do my best to respond to everyone. Here is a link to the remote-controlled aerial vehicle I used to make the video: quad copter.
Thanks to everyone who has shared this video, and a HUGE thank you to my friend Daniel Clark for editing it!