2014 Atlanta Snow Storm: Unprepared Region Gropes for Normalcy After Debilitating Snow, Ice (Photos/Video)
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | January 30, 2014 3:30 PM EST
The entire state of Georgia, including Atlanta and four other Southeastern states in the U.S. now grope for normalcy after a debilitating snow storm cocooned the region on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, worried parents of some 10,000 Atlanta students had heaved a sigh of relief after getting reunited with their children who were forced to spend the night in their schools.
"Metro Atlanta's children are home safe and sound, and I would like to thank all of the dedicated school officials, Guardsmen and law enforcement who worked through the night to reunite worried families," Governor Nathan Deal said in a statement.
"Yesterday, I ordered the Guard to prioritize stranded school buses full of students. With Humvees, they were able to get the buses moving and deliver food and water to the students. Last night, we had at least 95 immobile buses. We had cleared them all by this morning, and that was a big task. Our next task was getting students home from school, and now we have achieved that."
On Tuesday, a rare ice storm swept over Atlanta that even with just after five centimetres of snowfall had already created a massive traffic mayhem. Thousands were stranded for hours on frozen roadways.
At least seven have died because of the snow storm.
Dumping just 2.6 inches of snowfall in just a day, it was ranked as Atlanta's 20th heaviest on record, according to the National Weather Service. Atlanta's recorded daily snowfall since 1928 had only been an inch.
Home to the world's busiest airport, headquarters of Home Depot and Coca-Cola and host of the 1996 Summer Olympics, the city's highways easily transformed into a massive parking lot with thousands of motorists stuck. Some who couldn't get home decided to pass the night and set up makeshift accommodations in stores and offices.
Stephen Holmes, spokesman of Atlanta-based Home Depot, said they opened up 26 stores in Alabama and Georgia for stranded travelers who sought shelter. They spent time watching movies in store break rooms.
"At one store, they even opened up an indoor garden area to be a quiet area to open for reading," he said.
The storm stretched from Texas through Georgia and into the Carolinas. It shocked 60 million largely unaccustomed to ice and snow. They don't even have snow ploughs or fleets of salt trucks. More freezing weather had been forecast on Thursday.
According to flight tracking website FlightAware.com, more than 2,600 U.S. flights across the region were cancelled. Hundreds of others were delayed.
Blasted for his poor disaster management response, the city mayor of Atlanta took on the responsibility but said the schools, businesses and government offices were also accountable for the mayhem.
"During the day, we have a million to 1.2 million people in this city and all those people were out in very bad weather. It hampered our ability to get our equipment on the ground and to prepare our roads for that," Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told a news conference.
"The error - and we have shared responsibility for the error - the error was letting everybody out at once," he said.
Video Source: YouTube/thelovelyjovi
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