Bad weather brings out best in people

Residents open homes, stores, hearts to needy



NORTH FULTON, Ga. – The stories from the snow storm Jan. 28 are not all bad. In fact, some people did amazing things for fellow human beings.

Good Samaritans rushed to help children stranded on school buses on Freemanville Road, south of Providence Road in Milton. Another group of students were stuck on a school bus on Ga. 9 in Milton by the Target. Employees from the Target brought food and water for the children. In Roswell, the Home Depot stores were offering shelter to stranded motorists.

Other people helped strangers who were caught in the storm and ensuing region-wide traffic jam.

Mark Holmes, who lives on Thompson Road in Milton, was using his GMC pickup truck to tow his wife’s car from a ditch about 5 p.m. when he noticed a steady stream of people walking through the snow.

“I was out there in my truck and I figured some of these folks needed to get to a safe place,” Holmes said.

He ended up ferrying a dozen people – families and single people – to their homes and shelter. He took one man to Summit Hill Elementary School to meet his daughter, who was stranded there.

“The roads were pretty bad, but not for me,” Holmes said.

By this point at night, many people had made it home and those who could not had abandoned their vehicles on the side of the road.

One man Holmes helped out happened to be a special case.

“I saw a man walking down the road carrying what looked like a baby,” Holmes said. “I told the guy I was transporting that we had to stop and help the guy out.”

Holmes stopped and rolled down his window, asking if the man needed help. It turned out that man was a coworker of Holmes.

“He was carrying his 4-year-old son home,” Holmes said. “He had been walking for about four miles and still had five left to go. I got him in the truck and he was in a great mood.”

Holmes stayed on the road until about 9 p.m., five hours after setting out.

“I couldn’t imagine being stuck in the snow, walking home, it being dark and then the temperature dropping another 10 degrees,” Holmes said. “We’re all children of God. You’ve got to help your fellow man. That’s what you’re supposed to do. I wish I could have helped more. I’m glad I helped the 12 people I helped, but I don’t think I did anything big.”

For Alpharetta Resident Kate Berlyoung, the evening brought her a new friend.

The Canton Street resident and her family were at home and had avoided the brunt of the traffic jams. The daughter of a friend, at university in South Carolina, was speaking with one of her friends, whose mother – Helen – was stuck in Alpharetta’s traffic and trying to get home.

“It turns out Helen was pretty close to our house,” Berlyoung said. “Her phone was dying and we offered her a place to stay.”

Helen managed to drive to Berlyoung’s home and spent the night with the Berlyoungs – people she didn’t know.

“It was a great experience,” Berlyoung said. “It was great for me and my husband to help someone out that needed it.”

Helen was on her way the following day, well-rested and warm thanks to Berlyoung.

“I was thrilled to meet Helen,” Berlyoung said. “We talked about getting together once the weather is nicer.”

Further south, in Roswell, a local restaurant opened its doors to those in need.

Carla Dent, owner of Pastis Restaurant and Bar on Canton Street in Roswell didn't even know how badly the day had become until she received a phone call in the restaurant about 7 p.m.

The caller asked Dent if she could just run in and use the restroom.

When Dent agreed, she decided that she needed to see what was going on "out there."

She turned on the TVs, turned on all of the lights and realized that there were people in distress all around her on Canton Street, Magnolia Street and Ga. 9.

She made sure her staff could leave if they needed to go home to their own loved ones and kept the lights on and the doors open for those seeking refuge.

Dent ended up pushing booths together and using tablecloths for about 15 people to sleep throughout the restaurant.

She fixed dinner and then breakfast with a teamwork approach.

“Everyone was so nice and doing what they could so everyone could be safe,” Dent said.

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