It all started with a few flurries around noon on January 28th, 2014. By 5:00, most of the city of Atlanta was stuck in their cars/schools/office buildings due to the dangerously icy conditions on the road. With more than 900 reported car accidents and thousands of cars abandoned on the road throughout the day and night, Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse was reminiscent of the opening scenes of the popular zombie apocalypse show The Walking Dead.
Despite the negative media attention given to the city’s lack of emergency preparedness, the citizens of Atlanta banded together to aid their fellow man in a spectacular showcase of Southern Hospitality. The assistance that the citizens of Atlanta gave and received throughout the day would not have been possible without social media.
First came the Facebook group, SnowedOutAtlanta. This group allowed Atlantans to post their addresses and the locations of businesses that were opening to accommodate the droves stranded motorists who were forced to abandon their cars to find shelter for the night. The stranded individuals could check Facebook for nearby homes to ride out the storm in. People with snow-going vehicles also posted their locations and used the group to find stranded people to help in their areas.
This is just one of the many helpful posts to the Snowed Out Atlanta Facebook Group
This group provided assistance to many of the motorists, but for those who weren’t near open locations, more hometown heroes trekked miles in the snow to hand out snacks, water bottles and hot chocolate to the gridlocked drivers stuck in the snow. These people posted their routes to Facebook to let motorists know that help was on the way. This BuzzFeed article shows just a few examples of these small time heroes use of Social Media to save the day.
The way that social media united a city of roughly 6 million people during a state of emergency shows the immense power that the connected web has given to individuals. Without the mass movement from Atlanta’s very own citizens, this Snowpocalypse could have been much worse. As much criticism as social media receives for distancing human relationships, the events of January 28th prove that social media networks still have a human touch. Social media provided the vehicle for ordinary people to come together to make an extraordinary impact on the city they call home.