The Blizzard — Still chilling, 20 years later
by Rebecca Johnston
March 17, 2013 12:00 AM | 1445 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rebecca Johnston<br>Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
Rebecca Johnston
Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
As I write this I can finally feel spring in the air after what seems like the longest, dreariest winter imaginable, but while I feel like the sun has not shone for months, I really know we got off lightly this season.

Not so 20 years ago, when on March 13 we were hit with what I remember as the worst snowstorm and winter weather event of my life, the Blizzard of ‘93.

Many may argue other ice storms or snowfalls were more intense, but I disagree.

I still remember clearly the snow falling so thickly you could barely see a few feet ahead, if indeed you risked going outside at all.

The wind was blowing violently, whirling the snow in the air, causing it to pile into drifts even thicker than the almost foot of the white stuff we got here in Canton that late winter day.

Anyone who has lived in Georgia long at all knows that when word of a possible snowstorm comes across the television, it pretty much assures that snow won’t come.

Some people rush to the grocery store to stock up on milk and bread and prepare for the weatherperson’s forecast.

But a lot of us who have become a little more skeptical that the weather report is ever right just ignore it and go on our merry way, smug that we are not falling for all that snow stuff.

That was my mindset in 1993 on that fateful Saturday when we were shut down by Mother Nature.

Amos Adams, the father-in-law of my friend Jeannie Adams had just died and the first night of visitation had been held. The family decided to delay the funeral until after the storm, never dreaming of what would come.

I offered to take Jeannie’s daughter, Jennifer, then about 8 years old, home with us for the night. Little did any of us know that would stretch to three or four days.

Days without power or heat. Nights when our family of four plus Jennifer stretched out on pallets in front of the fireplace to try and keep warm and get a few hours of sleep.

Mealtimes consisted of putting together whatever we could find in the kitchen or heating a can of something or the other on the gas grill on the back porch.

We were the lucky ones. Within a few days our power was restored and we could begin to get back to normal.

Not so for those at Lake Arrowhead and other more isolated regions of the community. Some would wait for more than seven days to be dug out and to have lights and heat restored.

Those days were a time of neighbor helping neighbor.

My mother was stranded at her home and frightened of the situation. We couldn’t get to her.

Sure, we realized we should have brought her to our house, but foolishly we thought it would never get as bad as it did.

The Canton fire chief eventually went out and picked up my mother at her house and brought her into town to “safety.”

Fortunately she had a relative’s home to go to. Many who had nowhere else to go had to be brought to the National Guard armory where a shelter was set up.

Sunday and Monday were still rough, but by Tuesday the world was beginning to move a little and I was able to make my way to the Cherokee Tribune office where we worked to get a paper out for Wednesday.

The storm dominated the front page.

One story told of hundreds of volunteers gathering on Sunday and trying to reach the almost 1,000 households totally cut off at Lake Arrowhead.

Another told of the lack of food and supplies at area stores. Still another told of the thousands of homes without power in Cherokee County.

Still another told of Interstate 75 becoming a parking lot, with motorists from near and far stranded at rest stops, in their vehicles and at commercial establishments at exits.

Editorials praised emergency workers for the job they did during the storm. Photos of cars in ditches and on the side of the road filled the pages.

Somehow, I think, everyone survived. And everyone had a tale to tell in the days that followed of what they did during the blizzard.

T-shirts were even printed with the slogan “I survived the Blizzard of ’93” emblazoned across them.

We got the newspaper to press. I went to the funeral for Mr. Adams on Wednesday.

Life slowly got back to normal.

As I look out my window at a sunny afternoon, I am glad we escaped that type of occurrence so far this year.

And next time a blizzard is predicted, I will get some milk and bread, just in case.

Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
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