Atlanta Officials May Have To Dodge Some Snowballs
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Some people in the Deep South still haven't made it home after a huge winter storm that trapped travelers on the road. The storm was expected, but the heavy amount of snow and ice was a big surprise. In Atlanta, it got to be so bad people abandoned their cars and walked miles along hilly, icy roads. Residents are demanding answers about why the region wasn't better prepared. We hear now from reporter Rose Scott of member station WABE.
(SOUNDBITE OF ENGINE REVVING)
ROSE SCOTT, BYLINE: In Atlanta today, this was the sound of progress, people helping vehicles up a hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hey, it's kind of melting now. Hey, you're doing good though. You're melting this ice.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah, melting (unintelligible)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Yeah.
(SOUNDBITE OF ENGINE REVVING)
SCOTT: This icy road is causing havoc for motorists trying to get to one of Atlanta's most famous streets. Peachtree Street is typically bustling with cars going to and from downtown. But yesterday's storm turned this road into a mess of abandoned cars after they collided into each other. Meanwhile, across the street, a coffee shop called The Cookie Studio is serving lattes, and that was a welcome sight for Nina Cuther-Kelly.
NINA CUTHER-KELLY: We slept in our car last night. Well, what happened is, is that the cops waved us this way on like a detour because we couldn't hit the road, and we got down here, found out it was a dead end and couldn't get back up.
SCOTT: Cuther-Kelly and her passenger were stopping overnight in Atlanta while driving to Texas. The stop turned into a lot longer than they planned. Nearly all of Atlanta's major roads were clogged with drivers trying to get somewhere. For people like Rickman Brown, he's wondering if the city could have been better prepared for the storm, which surprised forecasters by the amount of snow and ice.
RICKMAN BROWN: I thought it was ironic that the mayor was bragging about how Atlanta was prepared 20 hours before the city was shut down.
SCOTT: But in a morning press conference, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed defended his city's response.
MAYOR KASIM REED: We fully mobilized all of our equipment and we started partnering with the state by 10, 11 a.m. Now, I understand that people are frustrated and angry.
SCOTT: Reed says gridlock is bound to happen when nearly a million people hit the roads at the same time. Meanwhile, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was taking heat about declaring a state of emergency after the storm had paralyzed most of the state.
GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL: So it's easy to say in hindsight, yeah, maybe you should have made the call differently on the front end. We made the call on the front end based on the best evidence that we thought we had at the time.
SCOTT: Today, sunshine helped melt some of the snow. But as temperatures drop tonight, more ice will form. That will mean another messy morning commute tomorrow. For now, officials are pleading with residents, please stay off the streets if at all possible. For NPR News, I'm Rose Scott in Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.