Deal: ‘I wanted to help people’
by Bradley Hartsell
“Maybe this would inspire some people to help people in the future.”
Cody Deal isn’t a hero and he’s the first to admit that. But on Wednesday, with the nightmare snowstorm shutting down the metro Atlanta area, the Coweta resident knew he had to help — and at the very least, he hopes people can learn from his story.
“I didn’t save any lives,” said Deal, who's lived in Newnan for more than 40 years. “But people nowadays tend to sit back and let things happen. I just wanted to help people.”
Wednesday morning, Deal posted on Facebook to alert him if anyone knew any elderly people who were snowed in and unable to get their necessities, like medicine. Deal owns a Jeep with a winch and offered help to anyone who needed it.
Sure enough, a lady posted back, asking Deal if he’d go to Camp Creek Parkway. She had a friend who had been stuck on the road for 24 hours and was out of gas. She was in business clothes, walking to a shelter. Deal requested the lady stay put; he was on his way. He jumped in his Jeep and received another request for someone’s friend who was also stuck and out of gas.
By the time Deal arrived to Camp Creek Parkway, he was informed both ladies he intended to help received gas from other people and were on their way. As he was walking back to his Jeep from the spot he’d parked in the northbound lane of I-285, where he climbed over a concrete barrier to reach the people heading south, Deal thought to himself, “You’re already here, why don’t you help these other people?”
In a two-mile stretch from Washington Road to Camp Creek Parkway, Deal made his way up and down the interstate, offering to get gas for stranded motorists and helping those blocked in, even if it just meant suggesting they seek shelter at the McDonald’s off the nearby exit.
Deal says he could walk faster than the traffic was moving, if it moved at all. He noticed gas cans in the back of people’s trucks, since he didn’t have a gas can himself, and asked to borrow them to go fill them up. He hitched rides on the running board of tractor-trailers and filled up the cans with gas three times, he says, and dispensed it to those in need.
The scene was completely surreal to Deal in the three hours he spent helping.
“I’m a big fan of the show ‘The Walking Dead,’” he said. “It reminded me of a scene from the show, but without the zombies. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Deal says there were some he couldn’t help, people who couldn’t move even if they had gas because they were blocked in by abandoned cars. His heart broke for those people, like the young girl he saw in Ford Explorer with her face in her steering wheel. She was from out of state, and when Deal asked if she was okay, she looked up with tears in her eyes. She had plenty of gas, but was completely blocked in on all sides by cars left by their owners.
“There was nothing I could do for her,” Deal said regretfully. He could only tell her to seek shelter because it was already 3 p.m. and he knew people like her were about to spend another night in their car.
“I wish there had been more people out there helping and I wish there was more I could have done,” Deal said, who especially felt compelled to help those handful of cars he saw stranded with Coweta tags. “Because there were so many people in Coweta County who helped me when I needed help.”
Deal may have wished he could have helped everyone, like the girl crying because she was blocked in, but people like Juanita Bone, a friend of Deal, took notice of his graciousness.
“Even though I was at home safe and warm with my family, I spent a lot of time on Facebook. There were several posts made by Cody asking people if they needed anything because he was mobile,” said Bone. “There were several comments of people saying some of their family was stranded as far as 285. Without hesitation, Cody would say, ‘I'm on it.’
“Cody Deal is the most caring, unselfish person I've had the pleasure of knowing.”
Deal says he believes people were put on Earth to help others out.
“I’m 59 years old, and I live my life like this [to help people],” Deal said. “I’ve lived my life the past several years to do two things every day. One is to learn something new, and the second is to help somebody every day.”
“It has helped me in my life,” he added. “I’m very blessed and I think everything I have is because I help people who need it.”
Deal thinks society has grown more selfish, something he calls a “myself society.” He noticed somebody on Facebook said that services like what Deal was offering were “a good way to make some extra money.”
For Deal, that idea missed the point. “People need to get back to helping folks,” he said. “It makes me sad that people aren’t willing to get out and help others like they used to do.”
The people Deal helped, he says, were very grateful. He says he received a private message on Facebook from a lady he’d helped.
“It reminded me why I did it in the first place. It was an amazing ‘thank you,’” he said.
“If everybody in this world would help one person every day, it’ll change your life, I promise,” said Deal. “It’ll make you feel good about yourself and if you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel good about everything else.”