After the storm: Making the best of a cold situation

January 29, 2014 

A chilling cold and a thin layer of snow meant different Wednesdays for residents.

For Drake Harper and other youths, it was getting up early to go sledding.

For many businesses, it meant not only clearing the snow for safe passage but getting creative to attract customers on a day when many people simply stayed at home.

For Rusty Millwood, homeless for three years, it was another fight just to stay warm.

The sun had barely come up before Drake Harper and his dad, Freddie, traveled to the steep hill at the Rock Hill school district office on South Anderson Road to go sledding. The hill is a popular spot when it snows.

Drake said the snow didn’t blanket all the grass, but it was slick enough to “make the sled go really, really fast.”

Freddie Harper, who was raised in the mountains where tubing and sledding were popular, wanted to share a similar experience with his son Wednesday. They were the first to arrive at the school district office.

In jackets caked with snow, they made a few snow angels and rolled down a hill. The snow, however, was not good for making snowballs, he said.

Twins Jacob and Jared Coccia, 16, students at Rock Hill High, were among the first to snowboard down the hills at Winthrop Coliseum off Eden Terrace, another popular spot when it snows. Jared said they like to come to the coliseum because “it has a really big downhill with good ice.”

After going down the hill at the coliseum more than a dozen times, Nathan Hamel, 6, said he felt like a pro. “It’s pretty easy,” Nathan said, “cause all you have to do is get somebody to push you and then you just go down the hill.”

Heather McDonnell, owner of Cupcrazed at Baxter Village in Fort Mill, said, “We did a lot of goofy things today to make people want to come in” and the result was a steady stream of customers and sales of hot chocolate cupcakes.

At the Renew Our Community offices off Dave Lyle Boulevard in Rock Hill, Millwood was among the more than 50 people seeking shelter.

To stay warm through the night, the 56-year-old former pipefitter usually starts a makeshift fire, waiting until the embers die out to lay on top of the coals, keeping himself warm throughout the night.

“You can freeze to death,” Millwood said of the recent nightly temperatures, which dipped below 20 degrees on Tuesday night.

Iris Hubbard, ROC’s director, said the center’s main objective Wednesday was “warming.”

People who stayed at the men’s warming shelter at Bethel United Methodist Church and women’s warming center at the Hope Street Salvation Army were bused to the ROC so they would not have to walk along the icy streets during the day, Hubbard said.

On Tuesday, the center helped 77 people who needed shelter from the weather; 33 of those people faced eviction or the possibility that their utilities would be shut off, Hubbard said.

Jonathan McFadden, Shannon Greene and Don Worthington contributed this report.

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Don Worthington contributed

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