ATLANTA -- Monday afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal announced a major reform in how the state communicates with citizens during severe winter weather.
"Effective immediately, a storm warning will trigger a message to cell phones in targeted areas, as in the Amber Alert system, and advise against road travel," said Deal. "We will go one step further with school superintendents by emailing them weather condition updates, so that they have the most up-to-date information when determining whether to close schools."
He also announced the Governor's Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force which is geared toward providing advice on the implementation of reforms. The group will also offer solutions for the issues facing the state in the wake of last week's storm, which stranded thousands on the area's roadways. Among the members of the task force, which includes public officials, school superintendents, state legislators, local business officials and meteorologists - including 11Alive Meteorologist Chesley McNeil.
The task force will meet in an open forum setting and deliver recommendations to the governor, beginning at some point within the next 60 days.
Deal said the state would overhaul the emergency preparedness iPhone and Android app with shelter information, alternative transportation routes and other emergency-related information. He went on to note that after reforms that took place after the January 2011 storm paralyzed the area, there are more road treatment facilities in more strategic areas around metro Atlanta and across the state. But he noted that effective communication is key when storms approach.
"All the equipment and all the supplies in the world won't help if the trucks can't get on the roads. We've got to communicate quicker and more effectively on the front end to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible," Deal said.
Along with McNeil, members of the task force include:
Task Force Chairman Bart Gobeil, chief operating officer of the Governor's Office; GEMA executive director Charley English; GDOT Comissioner Keith Golden; Georgia Department of Natural Resources Comissioner Mark Williams, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough, Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth with the Department of Defense, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority executive director Jannine Miller, State Road and Tollway Authority executive director Chris Tomlinson, WSB-TV meteorologist Glenn Burns, WGCL-TV meteorologist Markina Brown, WAGA-TV meteorologist Ken Cook, Fulton County Schools superintendent Robert Avossa, Marietta City Schools superintendent Emily Lembeck, DeKalb County Schools superintendent Michael Thurmond, MARTA general manager Keith Parker, Georgia Motor Trucking president & CEO Ed Crowell, HTNB Corp. vice-president and former Connecticut DOT commissioner Jeffrey Parker, Georgia Power executive vice-president for customer service and operations Anthony Wilson, Georgia Transmission Corportation president Jerry Donovan, Metro Atlanta Chamber president Hala Moddelmog, Delta senior vice-president for airport customer service and tech-ops Gil West, Georgia state Sen. Steve Thompson, Georgia state Sen. Steve Gooch, Georgia House Member Jay Roberts, Georgia House Member Mike Glanton, Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, and members to be named from the National Weather Service, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and a metro Atlanta municipality.
RELATED | Chesley McNeil named to Governor's severe weather task force
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