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Powerful Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc On The South


This storm is also shutting down parts of the South. Governors in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia have all declared states of emergency. Government offices in Kentucky and Tennessee were closed today. In Nashville, people are looking at more snow than they've seen in a decade. They've got some trepidation and excitement. Emily Siner reports from member station WPLN.

EMILY SINER, BYLINE: The snow in Nashville has turned a city of drivers into a town of pedestrians. Buses and tractor-trailers are stuck in the middle of roads, even on the interstate. And cars can't make it up the icy hills.

CALVIN GOOCH: I lost traction right here. I should've stayed at home but, you know what, it's hindsight 50-50 right there (laughter).

SINER: Calvin Gooch is a security guard who got stuck on a hill in Nashville. In a different part of town, Elizabeth Ratliff isn't bothering with a car today. She's walking in the street in tire grooves that are left over by a few daring drivers.

ELIZABETH RATLIFF: Headed to my neighbor's house right up the street to build snowmen.

SINER: Ratliff has lived in the area all her life and says she can't remember a snow like this. Up to 8 inches may fall by the end of the night.

RATLIFF: We obviously aren't prepared for anything like this, but we're going to brave it anyway.

SINER: Mark Barry is doing his best to prepare. He's the only person shoveling snow on the block.

MARK BARRY: Well, I lived in Michigan for five years in the late '90s and learned if you can get ahead of the snow, it's a lot easier.

SINER: Still, a couple hours later, his hard work is almost unnoticeable with the new snow falling down.

MARK KING: Keep going.

SINER: Mark King has a different approach to the snow day. He's taking his son around in a four-wheeler.

KING: With two young kids, no school, no work for me today - it's fun.

SINER: Schools have actually been closed here since Wednesday. Nashville's one of those southern cities where classes are canceled at the first threat of snow, but today is unusual. City offices, universities, even Nissan's huge manufacturing plant nearby, they're all closed. In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory made a plea to companies this morning to consider closing their offices.


PAT MCCRORY: Fortunately with technology and hopefully with no power outages, a lot of these people can do work from home. But I want everyone to take their public safety first at this point in time.

SINER: And even as far south as New Orleans, where there is not snow, temperatures are still cold enough to warrant a freeze plan, which means the city is setting up extra shelters for the homeless. But for many across this region, the weather simply brings a sense of wonder that doesn't happen too often.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: It's snowing.

SINER: In Oxford, Miss., several kids are having an impromptu snowball fight and jumping on a lightly-dusted trampoline.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Who's bigger? The snowman or you?


SINER: There's only about an inch of snow on the ground here, but they're making the most of it. For NPR News, I'm Emily Siner. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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