Atlanta Crippled by Snowstorm
Thousands of commuters, semis and school children were left stranded by the unprecedented events.
“Don’t come to Atlanta, please.” That was the plea issued by city officials this morning after a snowstorm blanketed most of North Georgia. The flurries started around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 and despite the weather reports, city workers and school children were not permitted to go home until after the storm began.
Scenes From the StormView All 14 Photos
In the early afternoon Governor Nathan Deal stated that he
was not going to overreact and send workers home, costing the taxpayers
dollars. By an 11 p.m. news conference and thousands of stranded commuters later,
Deal sang a different tune. He said that the weather reports he received did
not indicate the severity of the storm.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, however, took full responsibility for the gridlock.
“We are responsible for the employees and the children,” said Reed. “Government, schools and business closing at the same time, and releasing everybody out into the city was a mistake.”
Deal did declare Georgia in a state of emergency late Tuesday afternoon.
“There’s no magic wand,” he said. “We are hoping that the crews can work through the night” to clear the roads.
In spite of their “through the night” efforts, few roads were cleared and the situation only worsened. Semis crashed into each other on 285 and a fire truck trying to pull a tractor-trailer collided with the disabled rig.
WSB-TV's traffic reporter Mark Arum called the traffic jam "unprecedented" at five a.m.; by seven a.m. he called it "unacceptable."
Many parents chose to keep their kids home anyway or went in themselves to pick them up, many on foot. Others are not so lucky and as of Wednesday were still at their schools or stranded on buses.
Hundreds of commuters along a northern stretch of Interstate 75 simply abandoned their cars, seeking food, shelter and bathrooms. One commuter gave birth on the Downtown Connector at around 8 p.m. last night. Area businesses such as Publix and Kroger grocery stores, Home Depots and local gas stations and restaurants stayed open to provide the weary a place to rest. The stranded slept on concrete floors or in their cars.
Hundreds of flights into and out of Hartsfield Jackson International Airport were cancelled.
Temperatures are not expected to rise until Thursday.