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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Atlanta Metro Can't Handle Less Than Three Inches of Snow - Thankfully it Wasn't a Terror Incident

Scenes from Atlanta metro area, post receiving less than 3 inches of snow yesterday, are beyond nightmarish. Okay, I'm writing from the perspective of a person who lives in Maine,where 3 inches of snow is just a dusting.  To me, the scenes of chaos in Atlanta resulting from a little snow resemble a mass human exodus, consistent with an environmental or man made disaster.

Georgians don't want to answer a Mainer's rhetorical question, "So, how would you react if George received over 140 inches of snow, as one winter record snowfall hit Maine a few years ago?"  Obviously, I value my life, so a smug question about snow is best asked to a Georgian during the summer, or maybe never.

Incredulous as it is, Atlanta metro area was in chaos because of less than 3 inches of snow yesterday. Smug questions aside, it's serious, and appropriate to ask how Atlanta, a major metropolis, and the state of Georgia, would respond to other disasters.  Think about how Georgia might respond to an environmental disaster, a major earthquake, a category 4 hurricane like Katrina or, God forbid, a terror incident like New York City endured. Officials better be thinking ahead, because any one of the above could easily  be forthcoming. Perhaps, this measly 3 inches of snow is a good preparation for emergency preparedness, to plan for, potentially, worse events than a snow storm.

"Atlanta (CNN) -- Empty streets, shuttered storefronts and abandoned vehicles littering the side of the road."

"That was the scene across much of metropolitan Atlanta on Wednesday as people hunkered down to wait out the aftermath of a snow and ice storm that brought the nation's ninth largest metropolitan area to a screeching halt."

"A day after up to 3 inches of snow in parts of Georgia caused horrific gridlock on ice-covered streets, particularly in Atlanta where thousands were trapped on the roads overnight, several major thoroughfares remained a mess due to lingering accidents and other problems."

Even young children were stranded in schools, because parents couldn't get to them. Some school children had to sleep on their school buses because traffic wouldn't allow them to transport the students home. Incredulous situations!

Readers can substitute any natural disaster for the less than 3 inches of snow resulting in the above chaos.

It's time for Georgia's public officials and politicians (current and those who hope to lead in the future) to make a frank assessment about the capacity for the state to support its citizens when faced with a disaster. This measly snow storm is an excellent primer for planning improvements in infrastructure, to prevent another preventable "Hurricane Katrina-like" spectacle.  

When will politicians learn how weather matters?

Responding to natural and man made disasters requires money, of course. But, the money required to improve Georgia's emergency response is an investment in infrastructure. Moreover, it's essential to assure the future safety of the citizens who surely won't put up with another 3 inch snow storm disaster.

Thankfully, 3 inches of snow was only a dusting and nothing worse.

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