Good People Doing Good Things — Stuck In The Snow!

When a sudden snowstorm hit Virginia, Washington D.C., and other surrounding areas on January 4th, the roads and interstate highways quickly became a mess, stranding some drivers for as long as 24 hours in their cars on icy, snow-covered roadways. Today’s good people emerged from that situation.

Life-saving bread

Casey Holihan Noe and her husband John, along with many other motorists, had been stranded on I-95 for over 20 hours and noticed that a Schmidt Baking truck was also stuck out on the road with them.  Said Casey …

“After almost 21 hours of being stuck on 95 South, sleeping here over night, not having access to food or water, and all of the nearest towns being out of power we were tired, frustrated, and hungry. Many of the people stuck out here had small children, were elderly, had pets in the car, and hadn’t eaten in almost a whole day.”

So, they decided to call Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore in the hope that maybe it would be willing to offer whatever products were on the truck.

“We reached out to Schmidt Baking Company and begged them to open their truck that was stuck out here with us. We didn’t think it would actually work, but less then 20 minutes later we got an incredible surprise.”

Chuck Paterakis, one of the owners of H&S Bakery, which operates Schmidt Baking Company, called the couple directly.

“We received a personal call from the owner of the company Chuck who contacted the driver. This driver Ron Hill opened the back of the truck and with the help of some people close by passed out bread to more than 50 cars who were all incredibly thankful.”

About 300 packages of bread were handed out that day. Some families had children who had not eaten for hours on end.

“Some people said this was a saving grace for them. This was one of the kindest moments I have ever witnessed. Thank you Schmidt.”

An Uber dude with a big heart

An Uber driver who was stranded on I-95 in Virginia is being praised for his kindness and determination to get a young passenger home safe.

DaVante Williams was stuck on I-95 near Washington, D.C. for nearly 6 hours with an “overwhelmed” teenage passenger who was trying to get home to Williamsburg, Virginia — about 150 miles away. The teenage girl was originally going to take a train, but it was canceled due to a derailment, so she turned to Uber. Williams said she was “very, very emotional” after first having attempted to get home on a canceled train ride, only to become stranded on the highway.  According to Mr. Williams …

“She would call her mother or call her father here and there to communicate what was going on. She was overwhelmed, and I totally understood because all she wanted to do was get home.”

He also spoke to her parents to let them know he would take care of their daughter. Williams finally found a way to exit the interstate around 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Exhausted from sitting in traffic all night and still a long way from home, Williams booked a hotel room for the young rider to get some sleep and make alternative travel plans. He even offered to drive her the rest of the way home once the roads were clear, at no charge. Ultimately, a family friend was able to pick her up and drive her safely home.

An Uber representative later called Williams, thanking him and asking for a receipt of the hotel room to reimburse him.

Not all heroes are humans!

Grga Brkic was with two other hikers and his eight-month-old Alaskan Malamute, North, in the Velebit mountains in Croatia when he fell 150 meters down a slope and was unable to move. The other two hikers could not reach him and called for help. North didn’t leave his side.

North curled up on top of Brkic and kept him warm for the entire time it took for the high-altitude rescue mission which lasted 13 hours. 27 first responders eventually reached Brkic where he was stranded, nearly 1,800 meters above sea level.  Says Brkic …

“The minutes and seconds before they arrived were so slow. This little dog is a real miracle.”

Good People Doing Good Things — Texans

Last week Texas, like many other places across the United States, was hit with a massive snowstorm. The difference between Texas and the Midwest in this case is that the Midwest is used to these storms, is prepared with equipment for clearing streets, etc., and … the Midwest relies on a large power grid that covers half the nation.  Texas, however, has its own power grid, and isn’t prepared for such a severe snowstorm, so at one point, tens of millions of people were without power in the freezing cold. Add to that frozen water pipes, so millions were without water, and food shortages, and icy roads that most Texans have never had to contend with, and it was a recipe for disaster.  But there is one thing you can count on in a disaster … there will be those who go out of their way to be the ‘better angels’ that are needed.  Today, I have a few such stories and I think you’ll find there are some really good people down there in the Lone Star State.

They opened their home to a stranger

Chelsea Timmons delivers groceries on weekends to make extra money, and she was making her last delivery of the weekend the Sunday the storm hit, February 14th.  As she slowly made her way up to a client’s long, sloped driveway in Austin, things suddenly took a bad turn: Her car began to slide uncontrollably toward the client’s house.  Luckily, she did not hit the house, but instead she crashed into the homeowners’ flower beds, then took out a small tree before her Toyota RAV4 came to a rest.

The homeowner, Doug Condon, came out and tried to help Timmons, sprinkling birdseed around her tires for traction, but to no avail.  Condon and his wife, Nina Richardson, told Timmons to come inside and get warm while she called AAA and several towing companies.  After making calls for several hours, Timmons said she finally realized that help wasn’t coming. Nobody could come out because the roads were terrible and accidents were piling up all over, and her home was three hours away, in Houston.

timmonsAt this point, Condon, 58, and Richardson, 62, realized they could send her back out into the storm, or they could invite her to stay. They invited her to stay.  Long story short, Chelsea stayed with Condon and his wife for five days before she was finally able to get her vehicle out of the ice & snow!  For five days, snowed in, they got to know each other and became almost as family.  After goodbye hugs all around, the three vowed to stay in touch …

“We’re definitely going to stay in touch. How could we not? I know their address.”

Speaking of better angels …

Ryan Sivley deserves a hero’s medal, for he is absolutely a hero to some 500 Texans.  When the storm hit on Sunday, Sivley headed to the corner store to stock up on supplies.  On his way, he saw several cars stuck in snowbanks and ditches on the side of the road.  Well, Ryan just happens to drive a 2010 4-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado, equipped with equipment such as chains, hooks, and recovery tow straps.  Now, Ryan doesn’t work for a towing company, but he does like to go off-roading with his buddies on weekends, hence the equipment.

sively-truckRyan’s adventure began that Sunday when he stopped to help ‘a few people’ …

“I had all my gear, so I thought, ‘let me just help.’ As fast as I was clearing cars out, people were pulling in and getting stuck.  I went from helping one person, to three people, to five people. At 434 cars, I stopped counting. So many people are still stranded.”

Sivley secured each vehicle to his truck, then pulled it past dangerous terrain, until the driver could safely take the wheel. In some cases, such as a young woman stranded 3 miles from her parents’ house, Sivley even towed the person all the way to their destination!

sivley-icySivley’s rescue efforts extended beyond towing cars. When he saw how treacherous the roads were, he began driving health-care workers to and from work and single-handedly relocating people who didn’t have electricity or running water.  He hasn’t charged a dime for any of what he’s done, though in one day he went through three tanks of diesel fuel for his truck.  He estimates that for 5-6 days that week, he was out from 4:00 a.m. until midnight rescuing people.  Damn, but I do so want to shake this man’s hand … if there is such a thing as a hero, Ryan Sivley is one!

C’mon in out of the cold

Jim McIngvale is known for his showmanship.  Jim owns a chain of furniture stores in Texas known as Gallery Furniture, and he’s been known for some showy television ads, such as one where he is actually wearing a mattress!   But when the power grid failed in Texas, leaving millions freezing in their homes, some with medical conditions that required equipment that depends on electricity, Jim became a hero.

He opened the doors of his furniture stores to anyone in need of warmth and shelter.  Anyone is welcome to use the beds and sofas in his showrooms, take in a movie or basketball game on his big screen televisions and sit down to a hot meal, said McIngvale, 70.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of angst among the community coming in here. They’re shellshocked. They’ve been home for days in the cold with no electricity, no heat, no water, no plumbing.”

McIngvale-2While the store has power supplied by a generator filled with 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel, only one faucet is working because of frozen pipes, said McIngvale.  He brought in portable toilets and rigged a special flush system in the restrooms with extra water.

McIngvale has also paid food vendors to bring in tacos, enchiladas, hamburgers, hot dogs and breakfast burritos.

“To whom much has been given, much is expected. We’ve benefited from public support over the years, so it’s our obligation to open our doors and let people come in to get a respite from the storm. It’s the right thing to do.”

McIngvaleThis isn’t the first time McIngvale has done this.  He opened his Gallery Furniture stores to people who fled Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019.  Jim McIngvale is another whose hand I would like to shake … he is a good people for sure!

These are just a few of the good people who have opened doors and hearts to the people of Texas – I had bookmarked at least 5 other stories of people being the ‘better angels’ in this time of crisis.  As of five days ago, at least 58 people had died as a result of the storm and related power outages, icy highways, lack of water, etc., and it is said that the full death toll may take months to determine.  I suspect that the three people highlighted here saved a lot of lives last week.  Thumbs up to them, as well as others who were too busy helping people to escape to Cancún (sorry, I couldn’t resist).