ATLANTA: A rare snowstorm left thousands across the US South frozen in their tracks, with workers sleeping in their offices, students camping in their schools, and commuters abandoning cars along the highway to seek shelter in churches or even grocery stores.
Tuesday’s storm left icicles along Florida beaches and paralysed cities such as Atlanta, hub to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport.
At least six people died in traffic accidents, and four people who were killed early Tuesday in a Mississippi fire blamed on a faulty heater.
Overnight, the South saw hundreds of crashes.
Some commuters pleaded for help via mobile phones while they were still stuck in their cars, whereas the others walked home, leaving their vehicles on the road.
“We literally would go 5 feet (1.5 meters) and sit for two hours,” said Jessica Troy, who spent more than 16 hours in a car before finally getting home Wednesday morning.
“Most people sat the entire night with no food, no water, no bathroom,” she said.
“We saw people who had children. It was a dire situation.”
Atlanta once again found itself unprepared to deal with the chaos despite the assurances that city officials had learned their lessons from a 2011 ice storm that brought the city to a halt.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said thousands of children spent the night at schools.
Authorities were going to provide the people stranded on the icy highways some food, water, blankets and gas.
Around Atlanta, nearly all public entities and most businesses were shut down early Wednesday.
Officials encouraged would-be motorists not to drive.
Thursday will offer much warmer weather.