It’s been one week since Birmingham’s big snow and ice storm, and while we at Christian & Small are glad to be back to business, we are still trying to process what happened. Everyone has a story, and although it was such a difficult situation for so many, we’re proud of how our firm and the community came together to get through it.
We had several employees spend the night at our office. We managed to find enough food and beverages for everyone to stay nourished, and any couch or chair that was remotely comfortable was claimed and used as a bed. We even watched the State of the Union address on the TV in the conference room! We saw kindness from our downtown neighbors and were treated to breakfast Wednesday morning by the Tutwiler Hotel.
Some of our employees braved the weather and embarked on the cold and slippery journey home midday Tuesday. What is usually a quick trip over the mountain for most turned into hours-long traffic jams (one as long as 19 hours!) and, in many cases, long treks in the snow on foot! We are happy to report that with perseverance, well timed sand truck assistance, and the kindness of our neighbors (some in Homewood brought out bath mats to help motorists gain traction on the hills!), everyone eventually made it safely home.
With cell service spotty throughout most of the day, texts, email, and social media played a big role in passing along helpful information and checking on family, friends, and clients. Our gas tanks and cell phone batteries may have been running low by the end of the day, but everyone stayed in touch and shared great information about safe, passable routes home, the status of school closures, and the locations of friends and family.
Sometimes events for which we are unprepared and inconvenienced can bring out the best in people, which is part of the reason we all made it safely through the ordeal. We were encouraged to see not only neighbors and friends helping each other, but complete strangers offering rides and sharing supplies. Businesses and hotels like the Tutwiler went above and beyond to help those they could.
Of course, after a week’s reflection, there are definitely some lessons our employees learned, a few of which we’d like to share:
Trust your gut. Sometimes you may have to go against what an employer, school, or the media is telling you to do, so you can do what’s right for yourself and your family.
Be as prepared as possible. Never work on your four wheel drive vehicle the night before a snow threat. Keep some basic supplies in the car, including a blanket and some warm boots. Always have a cell phone charger with you. And always eat a good breakfast!
Consider staying where you are. Staying at work or school may not be fun exactly, but if it will keep you safe, warm, and out of your vehicle on a freezing cold, icy night, it’s the best option.
Take any opportunity to stock up. If you do end up on the road, stop at the nearest gas station to fill up on gas and purchase food, drinks, and other supplies you might need.
Listen to your mama. If she tells you to stay where you are or not get on the roads, she’s probably right… as always.