Snow brings out best in community

Published 12:07 am Friday, January 31, 2014

I don’t think it ever got to the point that I prayed.

Even still, I did witness cars scattered across the road as people abandoned their vehicles, choosing to walk instead of drive.

In the 13 years that I have lived in Natchez, I never seen the streets covered in such a thick layer of ice that it left cars fishtailing as they tried to turn corners.

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The flyover was turned into an oversized bobsled track for eight or so cars Wednesday morning. Coming off the ramp onto Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, the cars lost control and swerved across the pavement. The scene described by police offices on the scanner was nothing short of chaos.

I didn’t see what happened, but I did see the aftermath Wednesday morning. Trucks and cars were scattered across the street at odd angles and, on a couple of occasions, were stopped just short of the roadside ditch.

It wasn’t much different on the other side of town at the end of the eastbound Mississippi River Bridge. Cars and trucks on the bridge were stopped as an 18-wheeler and several cars spun their wheels in a futile attempt to climb John R. Junkin Drive to Canal Street.

As slow as I tried to drive around town to cover the storm, there were moments when I thought my car was going to be stranded. There were a few moments when my wheels spun and my car swerved in the street. Thankfully, I never got stuck.

But if I were, I am sure that there would be someone just around the bend or down the street to come help.

If there was one silver lining in this week’s winter storm, it is this: as much as people struggled, there were just as many people ready to lend a hand.

There was not one incident where I saw a person in trouble on the side of the road that there wasn’t another person far behind to help.

Many of the helpers in the storm were in uniform. Adams County Sheriff’s deputies, Natchez police officers, Vidalia police officers and other emergency personnel performed valiantly through the ice and snow, even as they struggled themselves.

There were just as many plain-clothed people who reached out to lend a hand, like the woman who got out of her car on East Franklin Street to help push another woman’s car across the intersection at Orange Avenue, or the two men who walked onto Seargent Prentiss Drive outside the hospital to help another victim get his truck off the ice.

Everywhere I looked, there were people trying to help people.

Hurricanes and winter storms that show how vulnerable we are in the face of Mother Natures have a way of bringing out the best in people. Maybe it is because we all realize there are times when we can’t make it in this world without each other.

I am sure there are similar good Samaritans when the sun is shining and the temperatures are in the 80s, but they are not as apparent when everything is seemingly under control.

One person in our office said the word “Snowmaggedon” but as bad as it was in Natchez, it was nothing compared to what the people in Birmingham, Ala., or Atlanta faced.

“Snowmaggedon” infers that all is lost.

With all of the people reaching out to help, I prefer to think that a little bit of humanity was found.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at