Light flurries posed no threat as I packed my two young boys and their friends into the car to head the fifteen minutes home that January day. A few miles down the road, however, the fluffy flakes evolved into an icy sideways blast, quickly piling drifts across Ohio’s two-lane Route 250. Traffic slowed to a crawl. I need to get these boys home, I fretted. I cannot stay out here. Determination led me on.
Thirty more minutes passed as we inched our way home and there were still ten miles to go. Vehicles ahead had stalled with panicked drivers turning the highway into a parking lot for miles down the road.
The blinding snow was now a blizzard, and would be known as one of the worst in history. The Great Blizzard of 1978 paralyzed the Northeast on the last week of January 36 years ago. By the time it was done, semis were buried in drifts and cars had all but disappeared. Snow covered bridges and buildings. Tunnels had to be plowed through underpasses to allow vehicles to pass. I, too, was almost stranded among the string of cars caught by the 50 mile-an-hour wind gusts of blowing, blinding snow.
A Strange Occurrence
Along with many others, I wasn’t prepared to be stranded in a blizzard with four children in my care – no blankets, no water, and no boots. What was I to do? They needed to know we were going to be safe. I asked silently for God’s help and told the boys to pray too. That’s when the “snow angel” appeared.
All vehicles on southbound Rte. 250 were not moving. Drifts began to swirl against each car packing them in. In amazement, I noticed a small car ahead slowly pull out onto the oncoming lane. It appeared no cars were coming, but it was hard to tell in the near whiteout. I felt a strange, brave confidence to follow. If he can do it, so can I, this South Dakotan girl resolved. I pressed the pedal and followed the leader past dozens of cars slowly being eaten by the swirling white snow monster.
For another long hour, we inched mile by mile until we reached an impasse at a curve just before the underpass: a line of northbound cars met the stranded caravan going south. The smallest of spaces existed between the opposing lanes. I watched as the compact car carefully drove through the opening. My car was slightly wider, but praying it would fit, I held my breath and followed. We barely slipped through the tight opening.
On the other side, we breathed a sigh of relief and thanksgiving. I was able to return to the southbound lane. Only two more miles. Snow was blowing sideways, but the road was free of cars – none ahead of me, none behind me. The car that led me through the perilous white had disappeared.
Many were caught stranded in their snowbound car on the highway that night. One trucker was trapped for six days in the cab of his truck under a 30-ft. snow drift. Many died. I could have been among them except for the grace of God leading me safely home.
Was it really an angel? I will never know. What I do know is God kept us safe and brought us home. I can rest assured; He will take care of me through any storm which comes my way.
“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” (Job 11:18)