As some of you may have heard, the South got hit with a major catastrophic snow storm Tuesday. I know what some of you are thinking. “How can that little snow cause so much trouble? Don’t those people know how to drive?” Yes, we do know how to drive. Haven’t you ever watched THE DUKES OF HAZZARD?
Seriously, when you only encounter the white stuff every few years, your snow driving skills may get a little rusty and the southern states and cities try to spend their money on more necessary items than snow plows and anti-icing mixtures that may sit in warehouses for many seasons to come. But when we know that the snow is coming our way, we do expect those in charge of such weather related incidents to have a plan and then to implement said plan. Unfortunately this did not happen in Atlanta.
State and city officials, once the snow was already seriously coming down, put out the word that businesses should close down and schools, which many say should have never been open in the first place Tuesday, should dismiss early. If aliens decide to invade Atlanta and its citizens try to evacuate, I know what it will look like – GRIDLOCK. The aliens can just hover over the interstate and scoop us up.
By 1:00pm this Wednesday afternoon I heard on the local news that there had been over 800 accidents reported. How many more accidents occurred that were not reported by then or, that never will be, is anyone’s guess. School buses could not get to some schools to pick up children and hundreds of kids were forced to spend the night camped out. Some Atlanta school buses carrying children home couldn’t safely navigate the hilly streets or they got stuck behind 18 wheelers that were having similar problems and waited for long hours until they could have the children rescued and brought to safety. The interstates became parking lots. Drivers were in some cases stuck in their cars for 12 to 18 hours! Vehicles were piled up on the medium strips because they ran out of gas; some that couldn’t get that far just parked on the side of the road. National Guardsmen were out in force this morning checking to see if some of these stranded vehicles were still occupied and to offer assistance.
Both the governor and the mayor of Atlanta are under attack for not handling the situation better. People feel that the root of the traffic problems stem from the fact that there was no staggering of the shut downs; everyone, schools, government workers and Atlanta business were all told to shut down at basically the same time. This caused way too many motorists out there traveling the always busy roads. In perfect weather, this would have overloaded the city’s streets. Also, the officials had promised that they were ready for the potential storm and had equipment and de-icing trucks in place. They said this on television and you don’t lie on tv! They then proceeded to wait on clearing until the congestion on the highways made it impossible for the roads to be cleared.
The blame then shifted to the truckers who couldn’t get enough speed up to manage the steep inclines associated with Atlanta’s bridges and exit ramps. They were stuck and had no particular place to go, blocking those behind them. The truckers turned the blame back on the government officials who had held off too long on clearing the roads.
Then I heard the most creative blame of all. The meteorologists were the ones to blame because they said the major path of the storm would not affect Atlanta much and would drop the greatest amounts further away. Local meteorologists stood up and defended themselves, pointing out that on Monday, almost 24 hours before the snow started to fall, they had given the city fair warning that snow was on the way and could be several inches in accumulation. Even weather man Al Roker from the TODAY show defended them and their forecasts.
The only one not getting blamed for this mess is the snow! We can’t stop it from falling but maybe with a little common sense we can learn to live with it, know when to stay home and off the streets and throw some snowballs before it all melts away. And now is the time that those in charge make promises as to how things will be done better next time - just like they did last time.
PS As some of you know, I don’t live in Atlanta. I live in a town in Georgia far enough away from the big city that we don’t deal with traffic jams unless you count the Fourth of July or Christmas parades. It snowed here. The sun came out. Snow is melting. A simple life for sure.
FYI A little girl was born on I-285. Her parents couldn't get to the hospital in time. Her name is Grace.