More than 9,000 students across Georgia and Alabama camped out with teachers in school gyms or on buses and commuters abandoned cars along the highway to seek shelter in churches, fire stations — even grocery stores — after a rare snowstorm left thousands of unaccustomed Southerners frozen in their tracks.
Tuesday's storm deposited mere inches of snow, barely enough to qualify as a storm up North. And yet it was more than enough to paralyze Deep South cities such as Atlanta and Birmingham, and strand thousands of workers who tried to rush home early only to never make it home at all.
Doctor Robert Avossa, the superintendent for Fulton County Schools in suburban Atlanta, says his district had 90 buses stuck at midnight and a handful still stuck at 7:30 a.m.
"We have had students, unfortunately, stuck on buses all night," Avossa said.
"The National Guard and other state and local officials have been helping us escort buses out of those situations."
Officials say all students have been safely removed from stranded buses.
Many of the students stuck on buses were later taken to schools, where they spent the night. Atlanta Public Schools confirmed to ABC News that several hundred students are “sheltered in place” at nine schools this morning.
More than 600 students remain in Marietta, Cobb County schools.
Another 1,400 students remained at schools in Jefferson County, Ala. overnight, according to Bob Ammons with Alabama Emergency Management, while nearly 2,000 students spent the night in Shelby County schools.
An additional 4,500 students remain at schools in Hoover, Ala.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta's snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people. Georgia State Patrol troopers headed to schools where children were hunkered down early Wednesday after spending the night there, and transportation crews continued to treat roads and bring gas to motorists, Deal said.
As dawn breaks, traffic has begun to move on Southern highways. The ice remains treacherous, up to two inches thick in places. Fuel also remains an issue, as motorists stranded overnight begin to move again.
ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- Fulton County Schools