Thousands abandon cars along highways in and around Atlanta
Hundreds sleep in cars to escape Atlanta cold
6:25 PM, Jan 29, 2014
10:51 PM, Jan 29, 2014
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - Jillian Waggoner and her baby Huck, are spending another cold Atlanta night with strangers who have become her lifeline.
The two were at a standstill on icy roads Tuesday, and like so many others they were getting nowhere.
"There was wall to wall traffic. No one was following traffic laws, and Huck was screaming and crying hard like he couldn't breathe and i didn't know what to do," said Jillian.
The West Palm Beach native pulled off the road when she heard about the danger ahead.
"That's when the radio said people were stranded and the National Guard was having trouble responding, and that was my breaking point when I said I'm turning into the hotel now," said Jillian.
There were no rooms available. Jillian was the first to ask if she could stay the night in the lobby. Within hours 20 others had the same request.
"It felt like the apocalypse," said Jillian.
Even into Wednesday evening the roads are too dangerous for Jillian to drive home. A couple who lives above the hotel invited Jillian to stay tonight in their guest room. That's where she and Huck will be, until the roads thaw.
"I'm so thankful to them, my hubby and I are trying to figure out how to repay them, I don't know if we can," said Jillian.
Jillian says being warm and safe is all she can ask for right now.
Tom Goddard from Delray Beach also had a dangerous drive in Atlanta.
"There were thousands of cars littering the highways on the lanes on the side, all over the place," said Goddard.
He was headed about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta to a hotel in a rental car, but a few minutes into the trip, he knew he made a mistake.
"Because the roads had been warm the day before, it melted and refroze as ice and it's just a solid sheet of ice. Probably about a half dozen near misses of trucks and cars sliding on the road, really dangerous out there," said Goddard.
Attempts to reserve a room at a closer hotel were all met with the same answer, booked solid. He watched hundreds of people abandon their cars, lining the interstate, looking for shelter.
"They figured they'd walk in to the next exit, it was surreal seeing all these people walking the highway in the middle of the night, it was very weird," said Goddard.
After 12 hours of a white-knuckle drive, he made it to his hotel.
"I was never so glad to get to a Holiday Inn in my life," said Goddard.