AUSTIN, TX – What began as an ordinary weekend workday for Chelsea Timmons turned into a memorable six-day trip – all thanks to the friendliness of an Austin couple who went from strangers to family members in the middle of last week’s historic ice storm.
Timmons, who lives in Houston and works as a school teacher, makes extra money delivering groceries on weekends. But what was supposed to be her last run on Valentine’s Day soon turned into a run that Timmons will soon remember.
Timmons wrote in a now viral Facebook post that she planned to take her last delivery order of the day at 11 a.m. When the freezing conditions extended the normal delivery time to more than an hour, Timmons found that their Toyota Rav4 was up an icy hill on the way to their delivery destination.
Timmons wrote that she started using the brakes to slowly walk down the hill. But as her SUV got faster and faster on the ice, she panicked and hit the brakes. Their SUV found its way into a tree in the courtyard of Austin residents Doug Condon and Nina Richardson.
Chelsea Timmons housed a couple’s Austin home for five days after being stranded in an ice storm. (Used with permission from Chelsea Timmons)
Although her car was undamaged after hitting the tree, the amount of ice prevented Timmons from moving her car. Attempts by her and Condon to free their vehicle were unsuccessful. Timmons wrote in the Facebook post that she called a tow truck company and was told she would wait two hours. Condon and Richardson invited them. Hours passed and Timmons wrote that she had been informed that impassable roads would make it impossible for a tow truck to reach them.
Timmons considered calling a rideshare service to drop her off at a nearby hotel for the night. But she realized that if a tow truck couldn’t reach her, car service wouldn’t reach her either. Richardson told the Washington Post that the couple made the decision to invite Timmons to stay the night.
Richardson (62) and Condon (58) are empty nests with five adult children. They told the Post that they recently received the coronavirus vaccine and felt safe that Timmons could stay with them.
“Given the situation, it just seemed like a given,” Richardson told the newspaper. “We didn’t even have to talk about it.”
Timmons, whose original Valentine’s Day plans were to return home, drink wine, and eat chocolate, wrote in the Facebook post that was shared more than 5,000 times that she was in the company of strangers who became friends through the five who enjoyed dinner for days.
“These people make a complete stranger stay the night!” Timmons wrote on the Facebook post. “Not only that, but also cooked a STEAK DINNER for me! Definitely not the way I imagined my Valentine’s Day!”
One night became two and the longer stay continued. Every morning Timmons wrote that she would go to the couple and offer to go to a nearby hotel to wait for the weather to improve. Each time they asked if she could get to the hotel safely, what she would do for food upon arrival and what she would do if the hotel lost power.
Timmons said she finally realized she wasn’t going anywhere.
“How amazingly blessed am I right now ?!” Timmons wrote on Facebook.
Chelsea Timmons finally made it home after being stranded in Austin for five days. (Used with permission from Chelsea Timmons)
Unlike many of their Austin neighbors, Condon and Richardson never lost electricity and were able to maintain their water service, despite the crippling storm causing numerous problems in the city and Texas.
“We were lucky – our lights stayed on and we were warm,” Condon told the Post. “And when we met over dinner, all awkwardness disappeared.”
Timmons told the Post she wasn’t sure what to make of the couple’s generosity initially, calling her situation “the trailer for any blockbuster horror film.”
But over time, the three once strangers got closer as they waited together for the storm. Finally, on Friday, Timmons posted a photo on her Facebook page of her sitting in her car with the sun shining. The caption contained two words: “On the way home !!”
The couple’s generosity is not lost at Timmons.
“I just couldn’t get over it – they never saw me as a burden, not even for a second,” she told the Post.
When she left after five days, Timmons had become like family members of the couple. Timmons said she intended to keep in touch with Condon and Richardson after the ordeal, and told the Post, “How could I not? I know your address.”
Mutual friendship goes both ways.
“We just became friends,” Richardson told the newspaper. “She is a wonderful, sweet young woman. We cannot imagine sending her into the dark on dangerous roads.”