Heroes in the Atlanta Ice

You probably heard—or experienced—the horrific weather that hit the eastern states over the last two days. My hometown, Atlanta, was especially hard hit. People spent the night in their cars, as they couldn’t get off the icy roads; children spent the night in their schools because buses couldn’t get to them to take them home. One woman even gave birth to a baby on I-285, since she and her husband were stuck on the freeway. It was crazy.

As you know, however, the purest leadership rises in times of adversity. In fact, the quickest way to spot a leader is to watch what they do with problems. The good news is, Atlanta is full of unsung heroes and leaders who sprung into action when the problems got bad.

Brooke teaches at Dunleith Elementary school in Marietta. Her young students were stranded at school Tuesday night. So she did what any great teacher does. She stayed with her students, which meant she stayed up all night long, comforting those who were crying, making 200 grilled cheese sandwiches, keeping some from sleepwalking through the halls, and making sure the kids were active doing something constructive with their time.


Brooke with Dunleith Elementary students

She posted on Facebook:

“I have made sandwiches for staff and students, cleaned the kitchen, been a runner taking down names, keeping parents calm and retrieving their children since 2:30pm, and that’s the short list here at Dunleith Dolphin Camp… and they are asking if I’m making pancakes in the morning. Sleeping here with 60 or more kids. We unloaded mats from the gym, helped load a wheel chair and family of kids into the car of a Good Samaritan, had a snowball fight, laughed till my belly hurt, and all of us teachers are wide awake over here at Dunleith. If you have babies stranded at school I just want to say that YOU can trust us with your kids. Our school didn’t start letting out till 3:15 but the buses never came.

Staying up all night with everyone else’s babies K-5. Snuggled up in the media center. LOVE these babies!”

Wow. I call that relevant leadership.

One woman witnessed several travelers stranded on TV. Even though they were perfect strangers, she invited them to come stay with her. She became a warm, comfortable bed and breakfast for the weary travelers. There are so many more stories like this, of people who opened up their homes for strangers to drink some hot chocolate, grab a blanket and rest. At last count, 300,000 people offered their home as a site for stranded strangers to stay. One person left food on the median of a crowded road for hungry folks to consume. Another man bought some food and water and began to walk the roads helping those who were too exhausted to help themselves. Several Chick-Fil-A restaurants handed out free food, including Operator John Diamond, who posted—“We are here to help you” to anyone in need. Home Depot followed suit, offering shelter to anyone who needed to escape the storm. I love it. Good leaders do what they can to solve problems.

I know it sounds cliché, but heroes and leaders emerge most clearly when there is a problem to solve. While none of us love crises, it does my heart good to know that they always seem to give birth to heroes.


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Heroes in the Atlanta Ice