Nearly 8,000 students across Georgia and Alabama woke up today in school gyms or on buses. Streets and highways were littered with abandoned cars. Others emerged from churches, fire stations and grocery stores where they had spent the night after a rare snowstorm left thousands of unaccustomed southerners frozen in their tracks.
“Weather got so severe that we had to close the school,” said Christine Hoffman, the principal of Inverness Elementary School in Birmingham, Ala., where 75 students spent the night. “We promised parents that staff would be at our school until every child was picked up.”
Tuesday’s storm deposited mere inches of snow – less than three inches in Atlanta – barely enough to qualify as a storm up North. And yet it was more than enough to paralyze Deep South cities such as Greenville, N.C., which officials say has only three snow plows, and New Orleans, which has none.
The below-freezing weather turned major roadways into sheets of ice, leaving thousands of drivers stranded and cars abandoned. One driver trying to get to the airport told ABC News he traveled one mile in eight hours.
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