Atlanta vows not to get caught off guard again

8:40 AM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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Video: GEMA on high alert

  • GEMA command center
  • Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
  • Georgia DOT truck prepared for possible winter weather
  • Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay
  • DOT apology for mistaken winter storm warning
  • Incorrect DOT highway sign predicting winter storm
    

ATLANTA - Local and state officials moved quickly Thursday "out of an abundance of caution" to prepare for more bad winter weather overnight, even though most forecasts say not much, if any, will stick.

But after last week's national embarrassment over metro gridlock caused by 2 inches of snow, they aren't taking any chances.

Even so, the first move was an embarrassing mistake.

Beginning around 10 Wednesday night and lasting until just before dawn Thursday, the Georgia Department of Transportation posted a "winter storm warning" on several electronic highway billboards.

The DOT later took them down, issuing a written statement saying, "we apologize for any confusion this may have caused."

Yet they still mobilized salt trucks and crews throughout the state just in case nasty weather does happen.

"We're monitoring that to make sure that nothing sneaks up on us; we want to be pro-active," DOT spokesperson Natalie Dale told 11 Alive News.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency, whose command center was mostly unmanned when last Tuesday's storm hit, called in extra bodies early Thursday just in case.

"We very clearly heard the governor's recommendations and his suggestions for how things would improve," GEMA spokesman Ken Davis told 11 Alive.

Even though he's not responsible for all of metro Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed also made it clear Thursday that he doesn't want a repeat of last week's catastrophe that stranded thousands in businesses, schools and on the highways.

"I'm more concerned about the people in the city of Atlanta and making sure that we don't put them in that position again, that no one does, me or anyone else," Reed told 11 Alive News.

Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay told 11 Alive News he still thinks the city has a good chance to land another Super Bowl in the team's new future stadium, but he admits the sell will be a little harder now.

"One thing it will require for us to explain as the mayor and the governor have done a pretty good job of what our go forward is and what our plans are to deal with the issues we had," McKay said.

Meanwhile, several metro school systems are still smarting from criticism about not cancelling classes before last week's storm.

Thursday the Fulton County School system was sending out robocalls saying they have learned from their mistakes and are ready for any snow Atlanta might get.

Fulton County Schools sent out a message on Facebook stating:

 

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are posting to advise you that a wintery mix is expected in our area. Staff will be monitoring road conditions throughout the night. Please be prepared in the event that there is a 2 hour delay for schools on Friday morning. If staff feel that the roads are not safe, we will begin our automated call to staff and families at 5 a.m."

Cherokee County Schools also cancelled all evening activities except for the school board meeting.

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