Facing the storm together

Published 2:00 pm Monday, February 3, 2014

Cars line the side of Shelby County 52 in Pelham during a snowstorm on Jan. 28. (Contributed/Ashley Williams)

Cars line the side of Shelby County 52 in Pelham during a snowstorm on Jan. 28. (Contributed/Ashley Williams)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“You can make it home,” Pelham Police Officer Al Sanders said. “Take the hill on Bearden Road slowly. Go now—before it’s dark.”

With 200 students still at PHS, leaving was painful. However, many coworkers had to stay because they could not get home. Considering that I could take a few hungry mouths along with me, we started a slow and scary drive home. Maneuvering around an abandoned UPS 18-wheeler blocking the last scary ascent into my neighborhood followed by a brake-free second gear slide got us home.

Checking on the state of PHS and the many teachers who had begun a much longer trek was unsettling. Two hundred kids still at school dwindled steadily to about 35 who ended up staying the night. Counselors Kerry Barber, Laura Cochran, Shelly Johnson, counseling administrative assistant Lynn Faught, Assistant Principals Floyd Collins, Brandon Vincent and Todd Smith along with many teachers braved the night at PHS. Many others had ventured into largely unknown road conditions.

Computer teacher Scott Blair’s wife posted that he was missing Wednesday morning. Stuck on the road without a phone charger, Blair spent the night in his car. He walked home to his worried wife a few hours later.

PHS teachers who did get home were focused on those at school. Emails went out from teachers who had comfy chairs, blankets or movies stashed in their rooms.

“I have Mythbusters DVDs in my desk drawer. Teach those kids some science while I’m gone,” physics teacher and Pelham alum Stephen Shivers emailed.

“I just remembered! There are a bunch of baked goods in my office from the bake sale that the snow cancelled yesterday. Please go grab them and share,” media specialist Heather Kirk emailed Wednesday morning.

“Down to eight kids,” Laura Cochran messaged Wednesday at 1 p.m. “Working with Pelham and Helena police to get the last kids home.”

Shortly after 3 p.m., I had my last message from Cochran reporting that PHS was gloriously empty.

How wonderful to be part of a community that takes care of one another—no matter what storms we face!