Snow Angel Sightings in Oxmoor Valley


 
The Jan. 28 winter storm that slammed our Southern states disrupted the lives of millions. But the storm came with a silver lining too. Countless people generously reached out to help others. “Snowmageddon,” as it came to be called, gave rise to a new breed of local heroes known as “snow angels.”

Cornerstones at Oxmoor Valley, a Wilcox community in Birmingham, AL, endured the same snow, sleet, and ice that hit the entire region. This is the story of what happened that day.

The weather had been unseasonably cold, well below freezing for days. The storm struck on a Tuesday morning, with snow beginning to fall by 9:30. Every flake stuck, melted, and immediately refroze.

By 10:30, schools and businesses were shutting down, putting huge numbers of people on treacherous roads at the same time. An inch of snow plus an inch of ice paralyzed the area.

Tractor-trailers jackknifed on Interstates, closing them down. Cars slid into each other and into ditches. By the end of the day, more than 1,000 vehicles would be abandoned on the streets of Birmingham. Some drivers got out and walked miles to reach their homes. Others remained in their cars, resigned to spending the night in 14-degree temperatures.
 
Clubhouse great room.
 
In Cornerstones at Oxmoor Valley, it was clear that none of the residents would be going anywhere anytime soon. And neither would construction superintendent Jeff Hunt, who waited too long to leave and ended up stranded in the clubhouse. 

Lakeshore Parkway, the main thoroughfare in front of the community, was a nightmare scene of stranded and damaged vehicles. When darkness fell, Jeff became worried about their passengers. He walked from car to car, checking to see if anyone needed help.

In one car, he found two ladies who told him they planned to spend the night in the car. He invited them to accompany him to the clubhouse, then went back to check other vehicles. In all, Jeff welcomed five overnight guests, one of whom stayed two nights.

When the Cornerstones homeowners learned what was happening, they pitched in too. Judy Bynon took over food for their dinner. Others dropped off towels, bedding, and snacks. As the evening went on, more snow refugees made their way to the clubhouse and had something to eat and drink before continuing their trek home.
 
It was the guests in the clubhouse who bestowed the title of "snow angels" on Jeff and his helpers. 

By:  Caryl Dierksen


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