Posted: 7:01 pm Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Response to storm by Nathan Deal, Kasim Reed under microscope 

By Greg Bluestein

State and local government leaders said they learned valuable lessons about how to respond to wintry weather after the 2011 ice storm paralyzed much of Georgia.

Over the coming days, Gov. Nathan Deal and others will face pressure from skeptical metro Atlanta residents wondering how a few inches of snow brought the city to its knees once again.

The government reaction to the day’s disastrous weather poses a test for state and local leadership. Deal went before the cameras at the statehouse late Tuesday to soothe anxious residents on edge over the snowstorm that embarrassed their city.

Tales of commutes stretching for hours, of students trapped in schools, and of interstates turned to parking lots prompt questions about the decision to keep classrooms and government agencies open and the near simultaneous release of thousands of students and office workers on streets yet to be treated by overwhelmed crews.

An ever-evolving forecast didn’t help school administrators and executives charged with making the call to keep their doors open. And Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has already acknowledged a miscue with the release.

“Government, schools and business[es] closing at the same time, and releasing everybody out into the city was a mistake,” he told reporters.

Transportation officials are scrambling, but salt trucks are stuck in the same traffic that’s seized the rest of the city. They spent much of Tuesday trying to treat roads already crammed with drivers.

Deal’s reaction will also be under the microscope. His office sent out an emergency declaration through a tweet by his spokesman at 5:20 p.m., hours into the mess.

In a statement sent about an hour later, Deal begged motorists to get to a “warm stopping point,” on roads which by then were clogged with gridlocked traffic.

We know Deal and Reed were in close consultation on Tuesday. The governor introduced the mayor at a Georgia Trend luncheon before events back at the statehouse were canceled.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said his boss was involved in the storm response every step of the way, and signed three executive orders marshaling response between Monday night and Tuesday. He said the governor consulted with public safety and transportation leaders before declaring the disaster, following one of the recommendations from the 2011 disaster.

“There’s no magic wand,” he said. “We are hoping that the crews can work through the night” to clear the roads.

For Deal, the storm presents the biggest weather disaster since his inauguration in that 2011 mess. And for Reed, it presents his first major challenge of a second term.

Expect the two leaders’ responses to come under further scrutiny as the full magnitude of the storm is revealed.

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175 comments
MichelleSollicito
MichelleSollicito

Jim Galloway - I would love to talk to you about this - contact me?

LWJR
LWJR

Obama played golf in Vegas while Benghazi burned.  Hillary was bossing some man  around and never called Petraeus.

zebrarobert
zebrarobert

I am ashamed of the lack of leadership and attention to the public good by Governor Deal and Mayor Reed in failure to timely prepare their constituents for the 2014 ice storm and their lack of concern for the victims.  Political, self-serving nincompoops would be a good description.. 

Lunaville
Lunaville

Bolshevik. Southerners are not yet so outnumbered by transplants from the Northeast that the general population in metro Atlanta is unable to discern that snow plows and similar equipment would be a waste of tax dollars in this region. We simply do not have weather of this nature often enough to justify the expense. Furthermore, because it snows so rarely here, it is a part of our culture that schools are closed when it snows. This measure is so that the kids can see, play in, and experience the snow. With the schools closed, it logically follows that it is best for the community if the parents are at home also. 


As for those of you from colder regions that feel confident you can drive in these conditions, the real risk isn't your driving ability - it's the driving ability of those of us from the South. Trust me, you don't won't to encounter a driver from South Georgia or Alabama laboring under a delusion of overconfidence due to snow chains he picked up from some garage sale.


And I know it's hard to adjust to a culture so different from the what you were accustomed to, back where roads were salted the night before, for instance, but  there is a reason people say "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Try to adapt or, at least, respect the culture here, please.

TheButler
TheButler

Unbelievable, just heard Reed on the radio actually deflecting the blame and issues on state and actually getting aggravated with reporters asking pointed questions.  He is plainly trying to deflect blame instead of actually stepping up and saying this is where we failed, this is where we succeeded and this is how we'll make it better next time.  


The state and city should have been pre-treating the  roads and they didn't.  Had they done so this tragic situation could have been greatly reduced.  I was lucky enough to work from home and have children in walking distance from school.  My heart goes out to those that the state and city left stranded on roads all across the city.

thuney62
thuney62

Any natural born northerner knows that you treat all roads BEGINNING THE NIGHT BEFORE  YOU KNOW SNOW IS COMING WITH SALT! I was appalled to see them pretreating spaghetti junction with a salt and water mixture!?! Really????? Georgia's leadership should include a "professional" individual who knows how to deal with these weather conditions and properly prepare.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Who cares about the City having any equipment to clear the streets, they got to get the Beltway built and the Trolley running to relieve traffic and provide a place for the Lata drinkers to walk home when it snows.

DohBee
DohBee

Usually plenty of rock salt and sand is spread on the roads with even a less of weather warning given...


honested
honested

If the Governor had not come into office during just such a situation, we might be more willing to give him a break....


But 3 years down the road it is obvious he figured out how to make things worse!

findog
findog

First things first:

Let the Cobb County DOT guy know he doesn’t need to come back to work

Then tell every elected education official that they have an opportunity to tweak their resume as they will not be reelected

Encourage the professional educators so adverse to losing the funding for a day of school that they endangered the lives of the children we entrust them with to consider other career options

Finally, in November get rid of the Governor and all the state senators and representative who created this situation by reducing funding for classroom days below 180 thereby ensuring the stupid actions of otherwise well educated people

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

No problem at the Johnson house.  Kirk Mellish says stay at the house---I Golly--We "stay at the house".

Sascha2014
Sascha2014

 People take responsibility for your own life, security, and actions. We were told a week ago that it'd be bad. Your boss didn't closed the office, the school was open? who cares? I am smart, I don't drive and don't send my child to school. I take care of my-self and my family first, no matter if I have to stop buying the expensive coffee for a month. We will be safe and alive!!!!    What would it happen if we get a terrorist attack like NY? We would die for our own stupidity..... Stop expecting Government to take care of you. This is USA, the land of individualism!! Use your brain, think, decide, act, love your-self and be smart !   If those stranded weren't able to take care of their own and their own family, how do you expect one Mayor taking care of all that people?

DS
DS

Let's get kids home with their families, drivers off the roads, snow and ice off the roads, then we can dissect what went wrong with the response. First things first.

btn
btn

What was the name of the Cobb DOT guy who was bragging about how ready they were to the media the other day?  An hour into the snow we had Cobb officials telling people to "stay out of Cobb".


God help us when they have to deal with Braves traffic 170 times a year.

That being said the state's response to this was embarrassing.   Deal's office tweets a statement many hours into the mess, and to be blunt that was about the entire involvement of the state government in

 this from what I saw.

Jhank
Jhank

In the snowflakes of 2011, I gave the Georgia Governor and Mayor of Atlanta a pass. They talked a good game and promised to do a lot better handling of the snowflakes in the future. This time they get an F. We had days of warnings and were told that the biggest hit would be south of I-20. With some snow in other areas throughout Metro Atlanta. 

The traffic was a nightmare it looked like some of Governor Christie’s staff were down here conducting a traffic study.

findog
findog

Deal is not smart enough to screw up the DOT this bad

While we are sacrificing politicians I think we are missing the entire NW Georgia GOP

Marietta, Cobb, Cherokee, et al; do we have any examples of good government on the I-75 corridor

NWGAL
NWGAL

The weather forecasts were accurate but how many times have the weather forecasters predicted disaster, sounding like the end of the world is coming with panic in their voices, and nothing much actually happened? I did dutifully go out and buy supplies but didn't really expect the snow to materialize. Better safe than sorry. I wish all weather forecasters would calmly share their predictions and reserve the voice of emergency for the real thing. Crying wolf so often has consequences.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Will Deal use this mess as his excuse to privatize the GDOT. He has certainly screwed it up bad enough to make the standard GOP case that government never does anything as good as the private sector.

findog
findog

Why don’t they have the resources available when needed?

They have plenty of money because my taxes are too damn high!

SlimDem
SlimDem

It is the primary responsibility of the governor to respond to such unusual events. Deal has, once again, failed. 

I guess he is still trying to figure out some way to make a buck out of this unusual winter storm.

Featherpants
Featherpants

If all the businesses and schools in Atlanta closed down at the same time and there was NO snow the same thing would happen!  Staggered closings must be put in place in advance of the next storm and gridlock will be minimized.

mar1049
mar1049

I remember 1982 well. Although grew up in Ohio. Moved to Atlanta 1977. Never seen a city shutdown like Atlanta. It was sort of funny at first. The way people brought out all the food in the stores before the storm hits. Why does the traffic get worse each time it snows. Yesterday's traffic was ridiculous watching from home. Way to go CDC for telling the employees they could leave at noon. People were already driving at different speeds of slow and using flashers. What does driving with your flashers on mean? I always wonder when I see that. And I just looked outside and the street looks sort of shiny under the street lamp. Hmmm is that ice out there?

bbarth64
bbarth64

My wife and 2 year old grandchild are stranded on I75 with no gas.  They have been in that parking lot for 10 hours and cant even get off the interstate because on the off ramps are blocked by abandoned vehicles.  At this point they are freezing. The emergency blankets and extra coats are doing nothing to stem the cold.  Where is the National Guard... where is GSP... Where is Nathan Deal??  All warm at home I bet!

dreluv
dreluv

I can't believe Nathan and Deal don't know what to do rescue children stranded on school buses for over 10 hours...They don't know how many school buses are stranded..Nathan and Kasim knew this snow storm was going to hitt Georgia...It sad these jobs in Atlanta would keep people at work until it got worst...I blame Kasim and Nathan and the school supertendent.

Impeach Kasim Reed and Vote Nathan Deal out of office.

DMcGuireI
DMcGuireI

Complete failure by GDOT and State Transportation Board (petty wannabee's).  They failed three years ago, and failed again today.  Yet, there will be no accountability.  Shameful embarrassment.  We deserve better.

ATeacherLikeMe
ATeacherLikeMe

Why are people being partisan about this issue?  The democratic mayor and theRepublican govenor both failed.  I think government for both sides sucks right aboiut now, don't you?

tb420
tb420

We have to rally around each other and fix this thing.  Now and in the future.  These guys do not pay attention to anyone who does not vote.  They play a mean game and expect us to overlook their incompetence.  There are people in danger tonight for no reason.  I have two friends stuck currently.  There is no time like the presence to start paying attention politics.


I am currently putting up a site that will help track this stuff.  


Be back shortly.


www.trackyourpolitics.com


any body wanna help?

RNLK1200S
RNLK1200S

The only thing came out of Reeds mouth that had some value was his forced apology for fault.  The DEAL never attempted to offer any apology for this F-up!

LaceyBrown
LaceyBrown

Georgia government needs to pay up big time for officially shutting down and not taking care of their responsibilities. Students are spending the night at schools, citizens are sleeping in their cars over night on the high way, citizens are abandoning their cars on the high way, and Mayor Kaseem Reed has the nerve to talk about no fatalities. Such an embarrassing and irresponsible state. You all said you'd be ready for events such as this, and you let us all down. Time for a change. 

RNLK1200S
RNLK1200S

What’s sad the voters will forget this when they report to the polls.Incompetent leadership place many lives at risk today.It is sad that we have elderly, women, children, and the sick out there on the road for 7, 8, 9, 10, even 12 hours.Why?Incompetent leadership!

WaltGekko
WaltGekko

@LunavilleNo Excuse:

Atlanta does get cold often enough in the winter to warrant the expenditures for snow removal equipment and other things.  That's why Atlanta will never host the Super Bowl again and especially given this week, I would not be surprised if the New York metro area (Met Life Stadium) gets to host ANOTHER Super Bowl in the future given the NYC metro area is well equipped to handle such weather and is currently dealing with what is for them the coldest winter since 1977 (which was the coldest winter on record in NYC).

WaltGekko
WaltGekko

@findogI believe New York as I understand it did away with the requirement of actually being open 180 days to allow for events like Sandy that shut schools down for as much as two weeks in October and early November of 2012 and for other events that could not be foreseen.  That said, NYC schools actually were OPEN last Tuesday when 11" of snow fell and that USED to be the norm in NYC (including 1994 when NYC schools were open when 13" of snow fell).  The problems NYC had last week were mainly because roads in parts of Manhattan could not be salted before traffic hit the area, creating a logjam.

honested
honested

@Sascha2014Now remove the blinders.

If your home caught fire or if you had a medical emergency, would your 'I'm responsible, me first' attitude put the fire out or get you to the hospital?


Safe roads are a collective STATE responsibility which has substantial costs which MUST be borne. 


It's time to get back to charging the taxes and preparing the resources!

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Numbers_R_UsHe already has! There are now only 4300 employees statewide down from 6300 6 years ago and 12500 20 years ago. Any studies on cost effectiveness? Nada!

NWGAL
NWGAL

Yeah, all of your taxes go only to road maintenance. Right.

KimPowell
KimPowell

@mar1049 Flashers are to alert other drivers that you are driving slower than normal and to adjust their speed accordingly so as not to hit you.

NWGAL
NWGAL

I hope they made it home safe. But why should the response in a storm be any better than that for a bad accident? Shutting down I75 for hours for an accident is ridiculous yet it happens routinely. It's like each county monitors its little section of interstate and doesn't have the equipment or expertise to handle the situation.

MoFaux
MoFaux

GDOT does not control when county and state gov't close, nor the schools, and certainly not businesses. Go try deicing your driveway with 1000 people standing on it. Your justifiable anger is misdirected.

Chazwootem
Chazwootem

Yes that should be Jason Carter's stump speech forGovernor all Sumer and fall. I'm not trying to partisan at all. This is a major screw up by Deal and Reed, but we can't do anything about Slick Willy Reed, but we can vote Nathan " make me a side" Deal out of office in November.

RNLK1200S
RNLK1200S

@DMcGuireI  Great summary!!!!!! We deserve better.  100K of people on the frozen highway deserve better!

Chazwootem
Chazwootem

Ok tb420 I was calling you out earlier, but now you got my attention.

Sounds like a terrific idea if it gains traction with voters

Chazwootem
Chazwootem

I will not forget the day Reed and Deal blamed others for their own incompetence. It's sad that we have fallen for this over and over. Reed and Deal blamed every body except themselves. Yet both walk around screaming we need real leaders and claim both exhibit this trait. Well today really put things in perspective for me, also let's not forget those great leaders at the school board and superintendents office. All are just so proactive!!!!!!

MoFaux
MoFaux

The new formula is to hire contractors at a higher salary, demoralize current staff, but save slightly for not having to pay them benefits.

findog
findog

@NWGAL  I apologize for failing at sarcasm, its early and I slept at the office

tb420
tb420

@CitizenBrownBag @ATeacherLikeMe The reason is getting like this is because people do not vote.  Time to let the masses rule and not the special interest groups.


All I am saying.


Pray for those who are stuck.  Gonna be a long night and day.

RNLK1200S
RNLK1200S

@Chazwootem Today's decision was one of many.  There's no doubt in my mind that the DEAL will use this to justify his so call speed roads which will impact I75, 84, 20, etc.   The man is a con artist.  He tricked the tax payers into thinking that they were getting a great deal with car registration, the so call birth day taxes, when in fact he only fatten the wallets of this car dealership partners.  Why should anyone pay taxes on a used car purchased for CL.com?  If he wanted to help the consumers, he should have signed a Lemon Law Bill.  GA is the worst state when it comes to protecting the consumers!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Deal declared an emergency for the Peach State this afternoon. Over at the AJC, Greg Bluestein is reporting Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Deal’s response to the storm, especially after the 2011 […]

  2. […] cannot imagine the anger that Atlanta has right now towards Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal over another complete failure to prepare it’s citizens for predicted bad weather. They knew […]

  3. […] giant shit show. I could go on about the political and infrastructural implications of all of this (there. are. many.) but let’s just look at the carnage for now and take comfort in remembering that […]

  4. […] giant shit show. I could go on about the political and infrastructural implications of all of this (there. are. many.) but let’s just look at the carnage for now and take comfort in remembering that […]

  5. […] giant shit show. I could go on about the political and infrastructural implications of all of this (there. are. many.) but let’s just look at the carnage for now and take comfort in remembering that when […]

  6. […] Mayor Kasim Reed states in hindsight, “ Government, schools and business[es] closing at the same time, and releasing everybody out […]