Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, has declared a state of emergency, ahead of the second round of snowstorms that are expected to hit the state on Wednesday morning. The governor’s announcement appears to be, in part, a response to the scathing criticism received after the first round of snowstorms that stranded thousands of commuters and made the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) the laughing stock of the nation. The emergency has resulted in schools and several businesses closing for what is expected to be a long, cold Wednesday and perhaps a long weekend indoors. Despite the early announcement, and assurances of better preparedness, citizens in nearly a third of the state’s 159 counties remain skeptical over the state’s readiness to tackle the devastating after-effects of such a storm.
The people of Georgia are no strangers to cold weather. Some of the nation’s worst snowstorms on record have passed through the Peach State. The snowstorms in 2010-2011 and the Great Blizzard of 1993 also shut down schools and businesses in the state, with high winds, rain, sleet and snow paralyzing commuters and hampering rescue operations. However, two weeks ago, the last round of snowstorms – that had caused two fatal crashes and saw thousands of commuters abandon their cars in Atlanta – exposed the state’s inadequate preparations to handle such an emergency.
At a press conference, following the storm, Governor Nathan Deal admitted the state’s preparations were not made early enough. “I’m not going to look for a scapegoat. I am the governor. The buck stops with me,” he said. The admissions of inadequate safety measures by Governor Deal and the GEMA Director Charley English have resulted in assurances of a much more robust response to the forecast. “The next three days are going to be challenging. We want to make sure we are as prepared as possible,” the Governor said. These preparations are partly responsible for the Governor of Georgia declaring an emergency ahead of a massive snowstorm that is expected to hit the state on Wednesday.
The Governor’s new severe weather warning and preparedness task force – composed of meteorologists from major news networks and officials from the state police, transport, power, trucking, education, highway, natural resources, and public safety departments – is expected to provide a significantly improved response to future weather emergencies. The Department of Defense is also expected to play an active role in assisting the task force in preventing the loss of life.
The government has mobilized snow plows, salt trucks and over 1400 cold weather, four-wheel drive rescue vehicles in anticipation of a storm that is expected to be worse than the last round, two weeks ago. While there are no specific directives for big rigs and trailers to stay off the road, drivers have been reminded that snow chains on trailer tires is a legal requirement. Most offices, especially those located in crowded downtown locations, have issued employee advisories about working from home. Despite these precautions, there is a significant risk of being stranded or being in an accident on the highway due to slippery roads and downed power lines.
Nathan Deal, the Governor of Georgia has declared an emergency situation in 14 counties in Georgia, ahead of a severe snowstorm that is expected to drop up to three inches of snow over Wednesday and Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, Georgians can expect conditions of sleet and icy rain on Wednesday, which will turn to more snow on Thursday. Downed trees and power outages are also expected.
By Grace Stephen