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Gwinnett officials 'pleased' with response to winter storm

LAWRENCEVILLE — While the process of scapegoating, apologies and explanation continued in Atlanta, Gwinnett County officials were happy with the local response to this week’s winter storm.

“Overall, I am very pleased with how things went in Gwinnett,” Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “I can’t say enough good things about how well the county folks worked across departmental lines to respond in a coordinated manner.”

Though the county’s roads were clearly not subject to the mid-storm mass exodus seen in and directly around Atlanta, Winter Storm Leon still hit Gwinnett and created a lot of work. Nash said road crews initially deal with problem areas “that were impeding access to emergency services and travel by emergency vehicles,” then turned their sights toward keeping drivers safe and providing aid.

There were trouble areas, primarily in Snellville. City police helped more than 100 vehicles pass parts of a winding, hilly Ronald Reagan Parkway, and Gwinnett police responded to a 10-car crash on Ga. Highway 124. Throughout the county, the latter reported some 401 accidents and assisted 185 motorists between noon Tuesday and noon Wednesday.

All things considered, emergency personnel said things went smoothly and praised locals for their help.

“We were fortunate here,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. “We didn’t encounter a lot of the circumstances that some of the other metro areas did. People stayed home.”

Said fire department spokesman Lt. Colin Rhoden: “Firefighters noted that most residents and people traveling through Gwinnett must have checked weather reports and gotten off the roads early, thereby mitigating the number of major incidents.”

Fire and emergency services personnel responded to 281 calls, including 59 car accidents, during the height of the storm’s impact.

The aforementioned Ronald Reagan Parkway was shut down for about 26 hours but, by Thursday morning, there were no reports of ice on major Gwinnett County roads.

“I want to say thanks to all the county employees who worked long hours under difficult conditions to ensure the safety and comfort of Gwinnett County residents,” Nash said. “So many of our functions are 24/7 in nature that most employees had to report to work and many stayed past normal work periods.”

“I also want to tell our residents and businesses how much we appreciate their cooperation,” she added, “and the things they did to assist other members of the Gwinnett community.”

Senior writer Camie Young contributed to this story.