The mayor’s Ford pickup truck has 4-wheel drive, but that didn’t help him when he headed home Tuesday evening to his Whitlock Heights neighborhood and hit a sheet of ice.
“I slid in and just barely touched a car. It wasn’t like a wreck. The only thing that got damaged was my ego,” Tumlin said. “So I was sitting there and a guy came out and gave me a scarf, and I walked a mile and a half in loafers up the hill.”
Some of his neighbors stood outside and enjoyed the sight of the mayor almost as much as the bloody marys they sipped, he said.
“They weren’t watching quietly,” Tumlin said with a laugh. “They were having some good guffaws, so I was glad when I finally got traction and could get away because I was completely humbled.”
Tuesday evening, the mayor joined his neighbors in taking pillows and other supplies over to the 130 children trapped at Hickory Hills Elementary School.
His son, Ty Tumlin, left his Atlanta office at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday for Marietta to pick up his 14-month-old daughter, Madison, who was at daycare. He never made it.
The mayor’s wife, Jean Alice Tumlin, said she received a text message at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday reporting that her son was still stuck on I-75 by Howell Mill Road.
“He had no water and no food, and he had left before he had lunch, so I was concerned because you know, water, just to have a sip of water,” she said.
Ty Tumlin finally pulled over to the side of the road when a car allowed him to move out of a center lane, parked, and walked a couple of miles to the home of a relative.
“It was like 12 degrees, and he just had a fleece,” Jean Alice Tumlin said.
Wednesday morning, when he started to walk back to his car, Russ Bonds, a lawyer for Coca-Cola Co., spotted Ty Tumlin and drove him there.
No power outages reported
Meantime, the mayor was having his own problems. Wednesday morning, the mayor returned to his truck to find that it had been struck from behind, causing it to lurch forward and hit the car parked in front of it.
“Someone said, ‘Somebody hit you, and you hit the other guy and knocked him down the hill,’” the mayor said.
But aside from a few fender-benders, Tumlin said things could have been worse. He had yet to hear of a power outage as of Wednesday afternoon.
“That mitigates the emotional side of it,” he said. “You’re always worried about weather deaths, but I hadn’t heard that. Part of it is because I think we kept the utilities on.”
Marietta Police responded to 911 calls, driving stranded people to shelters such as the one at Roswell Street Baptist Church. WellStar Health System said its hospitals took in more than 100 people and provided them food and shelter Tuesday night.
Tumlin said he spent some of this storm watching time Tuesday evening at Shillings on the Square.
“I was a good boy because I didn’t want to be caught drinking a beer while my town was in chaos,” he said.
His generation remembers the snowstorm of 1973.
“And then the snow jam of ’82,” he said. “And then you remember ’93 and 2011, so you’re talking about 12 days in our history where these things just pop up out of nowhere.”
Events of the last two days underscored how many commuters pass through the city, which only magnifies a crisis.
“People going out Powder Springs, people going out Whitlock. Could we ever have enough (support) that people could drive home without sliding on ice? In my opinion, no,” Tumlin said. “But we can keep them safe and keep them alive and help people in distress and take them to Roswell Street Baptist Church and where our school system fed hundreds of children,” he said.
During a visit Wednesday morning at Lockheed Elementary School, Tumlin said he met six women who were stranded Tuesday evening and had spent the night with the children there.
“They joined in and helped babysit the kids,” Tumlin said. “People helped each other just like Russ Bonds helped my son. I think the city did what it could and the county did what it could. I think you’re going to hear a lot of hero stories of people that helped each other.”