Katrina on the ’Hooch: An icy debacle, but it brought out the best
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
February 01, 2014 12:00 AM | 4941 views | 3 3 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TODAY’S EDITION of Around Town begins with something much in fashion since Tuesday’s icy “Katrina on the ’Hooch” — some finger pointing.

We suspect that for the heavy majority of area residents Tuesday began like any other day. One of the authors of this column had, of course, heard the weather forecast but raced out the door that morning focused primarily on a 9:30 dental appointment across town. He got there and smirked to the dental assistant as he sat down that the dentist’s chair was right in front of a picture window that would give him “a great view of the snow.”

Rising from the chair an hour later he noted there was still no snow. But by the time he had paid his bill and walked out to his car, not only was it snowing heavily, it was already sticking. He made it to the office but couldn’t leave until 30 hours later. The point being that he knew at least a small amount of snow was a distinct possibility, yet took no steps to prepare for it. Similar decisions were made by millions of others — including many of those in positions of power.

Yes, those officials deserve a share of the blame, and are getting it in spades, especially Gov. Deal and closer to home, Cobb School Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, who inexplicably headed home from his office at mid-afternoon — long after it was obvious to most people that a major malfunction was unfolding.

But it’s not all their fault. Some of it is ours. If we had been as all-knowing as we are now demanding, with the benefit of hindsight, that officials should have been, we would have stayed home from work and kept the kids home from school. But we weren’t and we didn’t.

So the finger of blame this morning — well, one of them anyway — is pointing at the person in the mirror.


IN THE WAKE of the storm, Marietta lawyer Justin O’Dell has created “The 100 Challenge” as a way of helping groups like MUST Ministries, The Center for Family Resources, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia and other local food banks.

“This is a way for those of us who did not have to directly feed and shelter others to help those organizations restock now,” he said. “It is simple. In the next week, donate $100 or 100 pounds of food to a nearby shelter or social service organization. Use your business or your Super Bowl party as a platform to gather money or food.”


BUSINESS-WEAR is not usually considered snow-wear. But it was for many Cobb residents on Tuesday as they battled their way back home. And women seem to have had it the worst.

Patti Pearlberg, wife of former Marietta Councilman Van Pearlberg, spent four hours in her car before giving up and walking the final two miles home in three-inch heels.

Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley told AT she had to walk the final mile-and-a-half to her home off Whitlock Avenue.

“I’m not sure what would have happened to my feet,” she said. “They were getting blue and numb, but a woman — a stranger — gave me a ride for the final quarter mile to the top of my street and put the heat on ‘high’ onto my feet.”

Beth McMillan, a community relations specialist with Cobb EMC and daughter of Cobb orthodontist Dr. Ken Farrar, spent eight hours driving Roswell Road and the Loop before hiking the final mile through the snow to the EMC’s fleet maintenance building while wearing a business suit and cut-out shoes.

“It was a bit unpleasant for sure,” she told AT. “They were closed-toed flats but had little cut-outs along the sides, allowing the snow and ice to seep in and form a layer of ice between the soles of my feet and the soles of the shoes. I was worried about my big toe when it didn’t regain feeling for about 10 minutes, but luckily I’m no less toes after the experience!

“As my coworkers all kept saying in the car, ‘One day we’ll all look back and laugh about this.’ I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I’m happy we made it out with no worse stories to tell!”

Realtor Mikel Sutton Crowley said it took her nine hours to get home, but felt fortunate that she had water, cashews and a load of books in her car. As her car hit “empty” she pulled into a gas station and found she had to pour hot water on the frozen gas cap before it would open. In addition, the line waiting to use the station’s bathroom stretched clear to the front door of the store.

“I am never driving in Georgia snow again,” she added.


AMONG the many Good Samaritans on the roads that night in the Smyrna area was newly retired Marietta Assistant Fire Chief Scott Tucker, who’s running for the Northwest Cobb seat on the County Commission now held by Helen Goreham. He then spent the following day helping people get home from the shelter at Roswell Street Baptist Church.

Another was Jud Thompson of Marietta, who used his tractor to pull cars out of the ditch along Burnt Hickory Road and elsewhere.

As the MDJ reported, students were stranded at many Marietta and Cobb schools Tuesday night. Teachers, administrators, bus drivers and others went “above and beyond” in the effort to keep them safe and distracted. And Marietta Middle School Magnet Social Studies teacher Robert Meaders won numerous plaudits from parents and others after spending all afternoon and night on Tuesday driving students and teachers home a few at a time.


POLITICS: Don’t forget tonight’s debate for Republicans seeking to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) at Kennesaw State University, reminds political science professor Dr. Kerwin Swint. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Bailey Performing Arts Center on the KSU campus.


SICK BAY: Our thoughts and prayers continue for MDJ Associate Publisher and ad salesman extraordinaire Jay Whorton, who is back in Kennestone Hospital.


ON THE MEND: MDJ VP of Advertising Wade Stephens, while shuttling MDJ personnel home on Tuesday evening, slipped on the ice and wound up in the Kennestone ER after snapping an ankle.


PARTING THOUGHTS: Justin O’Dell, who thought up the 100 Challenge, summed things well on Facebook late Tuesday night.

“Tonight, I pushed cars for people of different races and genders. My truck was pushed by three black men and a Hispanic fellow. I have seen people giving rides, offering homes, taking meals, and helping strangers.

“Generally, when we are tested, humanity shows through. Day to day, we can be selfish, dishonest, and rude. However, when it comes down to it, most people will do what they can to help another person.”


AROUND TOWN agrees, because it has witnessed it over and over in recent days.

On a personal note, AT’s Joe Kirby would like to publicly thank Ken Baumhoff, who plays in the Due West Methodist Church orchestra with Kirby’s daughter, Lucy. Ken drove through the ice to Durham Middle School Tuesday evening to retrieve Kirby’s son, Miles, and Elena Gray, daughter of his up-the-street neighbors Tom and Nicole Gray, and then with wife Sarah put them both up for the night at their house after Mars Hill Road proved too treacherous for the parents and the school buses to drive. The kids had a great time and were four-wheeled home the next day by Adam and wife Eli Kriegel.


THE AROUND TOWN TEAM also would like to thank all of the MDJ’s editors and press men who spent Tuesday night “camped out” in the office in their effort to ensure the newspaper was able to continue to deliver the latest news about Marietta and Cobb County. Those thanks extend as well to our carriers, who went “above and beyond” in their efforts to get the papers delivered.

As reader Jennifer Bonn, a French/Spanish professor at KSU and Mt. Paran, wrote us Thursday, “We just had our MDJ delivery man walk down our icy street to bring us the paper. You guys are tough!”

Well, we try.


BUT ABOVE ALL, after reading and hearing of the countless acts of heroism this week, and knowing that there are many more that have gone unsung, we just want our readers to know we are humbled, absolutely humbled, to live and work in such a community. There’s no other like it.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Beancounter Eric
February 03, 2014
The title "Katrina on the 'Hooch" is insulting to the tens of thousands displaced along the Gulf Coast, and to the memory of the nearly 2000 who lost their lives during Hurricane Katrina.

To compare it to a devastating hurricane with very significant loss of life and property is inappropriate, and not what I would expect from a quality newspaper.

home again
February 02, 2014
Unlike Katrina, Metro Atlanta residents were able to get back home within two days and go back to business as usual. 9 years after Katrina, people are still waiting to return back home.
give me a break
February 01, 2014
This is some seriously shallow analysis.

As members of the private sector, we operated properly.

If the government hadn't ignored its own warning to stay off the roads, this disaster would not have occurred.
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