There’s a lot of Wednesday morning quarterbacking going on regarding yesterday’s snowfall, Georgia’s preparedness, and the inability to get the interstates clear. We’re a political blog and we’ll dive into the politics of the situation, but first, let’s remember that we still have Georgians trapped on the roads, sheltering in their schools, or otherwise bunkered somewhere between work and home. This is a mess.
There’s a reason we remember other storm events like 1982 or 1993. They don’t come around that often, but when they do, they leave a mark.
There’s going to be a lot of finger pointing at our leaders over this. Already and sadly predictably, Democratic campaign operatives are working overtime to make sure the Governor pays a political price. That’s reactionary, knee-jerk, and blame shifting.
The problem (as I heard articulated quite well by Tim Bryant on WGAU this morning) is that most metro Atlanta schools decided they would try to squeeze in a full or half day. That’s not the Governor’s decision.
Most Atlantans (and their employers) decided Tuesday should be a normal work day, or that employees would just leave when the snow started to accumulate. It seems everyone in the metro area decided to go home yesterday at the same time. That would be problematic under the best of circumstances.
On a day with temps in the mid-twenties and with rapid snowfall, that’s the recipe for disaster. Surface streets iced over quickly, backing up the clogged interstates. With the interstate congested from an hour into the event, there is no way to bring in salt trucks or plows.
The result, as we know, is that some folks took 10+ hours to get home, others spent the night in their cars, and many cars were abandoned (similar to 1982) exacerbating a problem and guaranteeing the cleanup will linger.
It’s easy to call for someone’s head. After all, when there’s trouble “someone should do something”. But we know how this works. We listened to the early forecasts that said metro Atlanta would get little to no snow, then “some accumulation”, that only became a Winter Storm Warning after most had in their minds Tuesday would be normal, but maybe with an early exit.
I’ll admit that I did the same. It took me over 3 hours to get home to Marietta from the Capitol. I was lucky that I tried to leave downtown at 12:30. A friend that left about an hour after me who lives nearby reports an 11 hour commute.
Also, this is going to linger. I-285 is now a parked wall of semi-trucks, facing sheets of ice. Some are likely to run out of gas before the roads can be cleared. There are a lot of cars that were abandoned that will be towed. They won’t be easy to find. A lot of gas stations and other businesses near off ramps or on major arteries were used to abandon cars, and it’s going to take a while to get those cars moved or towed.
Whose fault is this? Politicians? Employers? Those of us that didn’t heed the caveat to pay attention to forecasts that may change? Mother nature?
It’s all of the above. It’s an event. These things do happen. The priority now is to protect life and property. It’s no longer about preventing inconvenience.
Prayers to those who remain stranded, and for those first responders and others working with various agencies, utilities, and others trying to get us home, keep us safe and/or warm, and fix this mess.
In the end, there’s some wisdom in the axiom “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.” Because, there are some things that we can’t change. Could we have handled it better? Sure. Would there still have been massive inconvenience? My history of 45 winters says 3” of snow is going to shut this city down. Next time, hopefully we’ll do the shut down before half of the snow has already fallen.