The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 29, 2014

Winter storm lingers with freezing temperatures

— BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — People stranded overnight at school, at work or in their cars had a simple goal Wednesday: Just to get home. But Alabama's winter storm continued getting in their way as it entered a second day, with roads turned to ice from a hard freeze.

Thousands of people were stuck in traffic for hours around the Birmingham area, and others camped out in offices, school libraries or gymnasiums because roads were impassable. State troopers say five people died in traffic accidents that appeared weather-related. The fatalities were near Wetumpka, Marion and Cottondale.

Linda Moore spent 12 hours stuck in her car on Interstate 65 south of Birmingham before a firefighter used a ladder to help her cross the median wall and a shuttle bus took her to a hotel where about 20 other stranded motorists spent the night in a conference room.

"I boohooed a lot," she said. "It was traumatic. I'm just glad I didn't have to stay on that Interstate all night, but there are still people out there."

Moore's car moved less than 4 miles and burned a half-tank of gas during the ordeal. Her daughter, a schoolteacher, was stranded at school with kindergartners overnight.

Karen Evans spent the night with about 100 people at the Pelham Civic Complex after being unable to get home to Columbiana. She left work after 10 a.m. and had only moved a few miles on U.S. 31 by 5 p.m., but she did make it to the shelter.

"People were getting out of their cars and just leaving them in the road," said Evans.

Gov. Robert Bentley's office said rescue personnel and medics in state aircraft were flying over Jefferson and Shelby counties conducting search and rescue missions for stranded motorists.

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