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Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 9:09am

Officials in Georgia Cities Respond To Severity Of The Winter Storm

In a press conferences Wednesday morning, the state's top officials apologized for decisions they made during the winter storm that placed the city of Atlanta in a gridlock. However, Gov. Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed agree shutting down Atlanta early would not have been the right decision.

Both officials concluded they did a "reasonable" job preparing for the winter storm. When asked why he didn't declare a state of emergency earlier, Gov. Deal said if he shut things down prematurely, the government would have been criticized for a loss of millions of dollars.

Gov. Nathan Deal is sending Humvees onto Atlanta’s highways after a snowstorm stranded drivers on the roads for hours. Some children spent the night at school, and at least two Atlanta Public Schools students were still stuck on buses Wednesday morning.

Snow is possible in Savannah, and emergency managers along the coast have closed some bridges because of freezing rain overnight.

Road crews with sand trucks are treating slick spots. But emergency planners along the coast say they don't have the infrastructure to make roads safe during an ice storm.

Chatham County spokesman Pete Nichols is telling drivers to stay home or move slowly. He says “black ice” may surprise drivers unaccustomed to winter storms.

“You can't see it,” Nichols says. “You don't know it's ice, you hit a patch, you're driving down the road and you spin out.”

Most schools, local governments, and even military bases in the coastal area are not open Wednesday. Chatham County shut down its public transportation services at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

As he waited for a bus in downtown Savannah Tuesday afternoon, Don Donely said he’s homeless and relies on public transit. He said he was considering staying in a shelter until the storm passes.

Even those at home could face power outages. Chatham County Emergency Management Director Clayton Scott says falling tree limbs and ice can bring down power lines. He’s advising residents to stock up on emergency supplies like food, flashlights, and – if possible – an alternate heat source.

“If you don't have a fireplace or don't have a way of keeping warm in the house that just makes everything miserable,” Scott says.

Scott has been in his position for 15 years, and he says this week’s forecast is the worst he’s seen.

He says even several inches of snow a few years ago wasn’t so bad.

“We had a big party,” Scott says. “It was a lot of fun. But this is because of the ice. That’s what makes it so dangerous.”


Shauna Stuart, The Associated Press