Tags: Community & Outreach
Ali Moradi, owner of Seven Seas Mediterranean Café in Alpharetta, saw he couldn't get home, so he opened his restaurant to feed others stuck in the snowstorm. HATCHER HURD/Staff. (click for larger version)
February 04, 2014NORTH FULTON, Ga. The snow and ice of last week's storm descended with surprising swiftness, leaving every resident with a story to tell about a miserable trek home.
But there were moments when the human spirit triumphed over the trials of the storm. There is the case of Ali Moradi, owner of Seven Seas Mediterranean Café in Alpharetta. Last Tuesday, Moradi was busy with his normal lunch crowd when he looked out around 2:30 p.m. and saw how traffic was building up.
"I told my guys to clean up and get ready to go," Moradi said.
Moradi, who lives in Marietta, normally gives his cooks a ride home, but heading south on Ga. 9, the gridlock was so bad, they got out to walk to Mansell Road where they lived.
"By the time I got to Maxwell Road, they called me to tell me they were home," Moradi said.
As he plodded on down Ga. 9, his wife called to tell him his brother was able to get his son home from school; that was at 9 p.m. After midnight, he was only at South Atlanta Street and Marietta Highway in Roswell. With his family all safe at home, Moradi decided to turn around and head back to his restaurant.
"I lost hope of getting home. So I thought I could do some good if I went back and opened up for the people who were still out there," he said. "I'm in the Alpharetta Rotary, and I remembered our motto 'Service above Self.'"
Around 3 a.m., he was back and had turned on the ovens and the lights to Seven Seas. But no one came in.
"So I called the police department and asked how many officers were on duty and took them some sandwiches [about 55]. Then I asked if they had anyone in a shelter," he said.
The Alpharetta Community Center was open and was sheltering around 25 people. Moradi took them sandwiches. It was getting close to 5 a.m., so he made another 45 sandwiches. When he got to Marietta Highway at Roswell Square, he passed them out to motorists there.
In all, he made 125 sandwiches with pita bread, fries and salad.
"It's just part of being a part of the community," Moradi said. "That's the way it should be. I saw a lot of people helping others, and I wanted to be a part of it."
The Alpharetta Community Center was opened to receive stranded motorists when Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary George asked Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard if something could be done.
"There were some motorists who were stuck or who had run out of gas. And some folks just had no place to go. There were about eight members of the Community Development staff holed up in their office about two doors away. They volunteered to open the center up and take them in," Drinkard said.
Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Director Mike Perry cooked up some sausages and biscuits and brought them to the center around 8 a.m. to distribute to the city's "guests" at the Community Center.
Roswell opened its Cultural Arts Center to stranded people to keep them warm. Roswell Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak said at least two Home Depots stayed open all night sheltering around 350 people.
Johns Creek school bus driver Serge Renard called in to the dispatcher to get back on the road, as did other bus drivers. He drove 14 hours getting children home. Not one Johns Creek student had to spend the night at school. All of the Fulton County school bus drivers did an excellent job getting children home safely in adverse weather conditions.