Georgia was blasted by a rare winter storm on Tuesday which left the city of Atlanta paralyzed with two inches of snow over a layer of ice creating chaos as people attempted to run for home as the snow began to fall. There were nearly a thousand reported accidents with 104 injuries and one fatality.
Students were stranded in schools and on school buses which left too late to get them home and became stuck in traffic. Some cars were disabled in crashes which further contributed to the back-ups while others ran out of gas idling in traffic jams or were simply abandoned when the driver could make no more forward progress.
As Georgians began to express their outrage that steps hadn’t been taken ahead of time to prepare for the storm and possibly mitigate the problems, officials began to look for someone else to blame.
Governor Nathan Deal (R) took to the air in a press conference to complain that it was all the fault of the National Weather Service, which he said had assured them that the brunt of the storm would be borne by areas south of the city.
“They had their modeling showing that the city of Atlanta would not be the primary area where the storm would hit, that it would be south of Atlanta,” Deal said.
That was just not true as this map posted on the weather service’s Facebook page on Monday shows.
It is plain to see that Atlanta is right on the borderline between the areas where snow and ice were expected clearly contradicting what the governor claims.
All public agencies and most businesses shut down early on Wednesday and the buses ceased service as officials urged the people not to drive, too little too late since the streets and interstates were already clogged with vehicles futilely attempting to get home.
The mayor took to Twitter to urge people to stay off the roads in order to allow city crews to treat the highways and bridges but already, those crews were blocked from doing their jobs by the stalled, abandoned and crashed vehicles.
People found themselves being hosted by strangers and businesses as those who were at home and had space invited stranded motorists in to shelter for the night and businesses became makeshift shelters.
Debbie Hartwig, a waitress who found herself stranded, said that the kindness of strangers had allowed her not to lose her composure.
“I’m calm,” she said. “That’s all you can be. People are helping each other out, people are moving cars that have spun out or had become disabled. It’s been really nice. I even saw people passing out hot coffee and granola bars.”
In nearby Canton, Georgia the non-denominational Action Church kept the lights on and the doors open to take in and lend assistance to motorists who found themselves unable to get any further. Tommy Simmons, a church member said that the church parking lot was completely filled with cars overnight.
“I’ve got 12 to 18 people right now. They’re getting warmed up,” Simmons told reporters this afternoon. He told them that the church had hosted a family which became stranded en route to Texas and two homeless men in addition to all of the stranded motorists.
The governors remarks can be heard in the video below from WLTX.