(CNN) — At 18 hours, Kawanna Anthony spent as much time as anyone stuck on Atlanta’s gridlocked highways this week.
Imagine that: 18 hours with no food or break. Now add a six-month-old baby to that picture and you have a truly nightmarish scene.
“I have never experienced anything like that in my life,” Anthony told CNN.
Anthony had one diaper and two-and-a-half bottles available for her baby girl. From the outset, she knew it would not be enough.
“It was horrible,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through.”
Her story and others that are emerging after the storm that paralyzed Atlanta show the extremes that some had to face, and the kindness of strangers who stepped in to help.
As the hours ticked by and Anthony remained stuck on Interstate 285, she lost contact with her husband, whose phone died, and with an older daughter, who was stranded at school.
She used the resources available to her — fashioning a cloth diaper out of a receiving blanket and using her phone to call 911.
But emergency officials said they could not get to her unless her situation was more dire. She called 911 three times.
There came a point at which she was scared for her life and her baby’s life, she said.
A co-worker finally posted a message to a Facebook group for those seeking help, and relatively quickly, Anthony’s luck began to change.
An area man was able to drive to a bridge near the highway, park his truck, and walk to where Anthony and her baby daughter were stuck. He drove them to safety.
“I think he was Heaven-sent, with me having nothing to eat, and not having any diapers for her and no milk for her, it was definitely a blessing him coming to get me,” Anthony said.
Her car joined the hundreds of other abandoned vehicles on the road.
On Thursday, Anthony happily reported that her baby was warm, happy and well-fed.
She summed up her experience: “It was nerve-wracking.”
But was it more nerve-wracking than what Nick and Amy Anderson experienced on that same highway?
On Tuesday, just as the traffic began to snarl, the couple was trying to beat the clock: Amy was in labor.
It had taken Nick two hours to drive five or so miles to his house to pick his wife up, and then they found themselves experiencing “a little bit of the gridlock nightmare,” he said.
They drove toward the hospital on the shoulder of the highway, enduring the honking of the cars in traffic who likely thought the couple was simply trying to cut in line.
Amy told CNN: “We came to a spot we couldn’t get through at all, and that’s where I told (Nick), ‘We’re going to have this baby in the car.'”
Nick dialed 911.
At that moment, a local police officer, Tim Sheffield, was driving on the way to an accident scene, checking on stranded motorists as he progressed.
Sheffield said he saw a man standing outside of a Suburban and asked him if everything was OK.
“No, we’re having a baby,” Sheffield recalled Nick responding.
The soon-to-be-dad was really calm, and the mom was “doing awesome,” Sheffield said.
A 911 operator walked the dad through the delivery, and a minute later, Grace was born.
“When we gave her the name ‘Grace’ it just fully explained the whole situation — just by the grace of God that we all came out healthy,” Amy said.
Sheffield was touched that he was there to offer aid. It happened to be the officer’s birthday, too.
CNN’s Jake Tapper, Chris Cuomo and Piers Morgan contributed to this report.
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