Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday progress is being made in metro Atlanta’s weather crisis, with hundreds of stranded children on school buses now in a warm place, if not at home.
But he declared the state government will be closed another day and asked people to remain off the roads so crews could treat the ice that remains as temperatures remain below freezing.
“Even though it is sunny, it will not be warm enough to melt,” Deal said. “We need to be able to get the stranded vehicles removed and we need to be able to treat the roads. We can’t do that if there are still vehicles scattered all over the roadways.”
Deal deployed the National Guard, State Patrol and even Department of Natural Resources Rangers to escort children stranded on school buses. While there were no reports of children stranded overnight in Gwinnett, Deal said the top priority for Wednesday is to deliver all the children in other systems home.
Patrolmen and guardsmen will have offered water, food and transportation to shelter to every motorist stranded by this afternoon, Deal said.
The governor and other officials responded to critics, including the Today Show’s Al Roker, saying the weather forecasts were not clear prior to the snowfall.
“We all have some lessons to learn from this,” Deal said, adding that the gridlock began because so many people took to the roads at the same time Tuesday afternoon. “The (transportation) equipment could not function with so many people on the roadway and unable to move. I don’t know the best way to solve that.”
“I understand people’s frustration and anger,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said, but he defended the response as compared to a five-day shutdown in 2011.
Officials discussed the idea of staggering people’s exodus from their workforces and talked about regulations of 18-wheelers, which blocked interstates when they jack-knifed.
“It’s easy to make judgment calls after the fact,” Deal said, adding that shutting down the city would have been costly if little snow had developed.