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Monday, February 10, 2014

Deal, Reed promise early and adequate response to anticipated winter storm

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  • Kelly Shure
Two weeks after a snowstorm caused massive gridlock and chaos in metro Atlanta, state and city officials are taking extra precautions to prevent another winter blast from immobilizing the region.

Flanked by top department and agency leaders, Gov. Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed announced at a press conference this afternoon that they had already begun taking major steps to ensure an effective snowstorm response. Both elected officials had activated the state's and city's respective emergency operations facilities and mobilized additional resources to treat roads and highways before snow, sleet, and rain - and yes, lots of ice - arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We're not looking back, we're looking forward," Deal told reporters.

In doing so, Deal has already declared a state of emergency for 45 counties in north Georgia and metro Atlanta - including Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett - in anticipation for two different storm systems. Both the governor and the mayor made it clear that collaboration among officials across metro Atlanta and north Georgia would take place to ensure a better storm response and avoid another round of national criticism.

"We're doing everything we can to be in lockstep with the state," Reed said

Reed added that City Hall is "doubling" its response efforts with an estimated 120 pieces of equipment, 1,500 tons of aggregate and salt mix on hand, and contractors in place to help with Atlanta roads. The city's crews, the mayor said, will be ready to hit the streets tonight at 6 p.m.

Both Georgia and Atlanta government employees are currently under a "liberal leave" policy and will be able to head home at their own discretion today. At the moment, Reed's administration is compiling a list of emergency shelters - including police precincts, fire departments, and rec centers - that will open its doors to those in need. Reed spokesman Melissa Mullinax says the first overflow shelter will be the Old Adamsville Recreation Center at 3304 Delmar Lane in southwest Atlanta.

Erring on the side of caution, Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb County Schools, and Fulton County Schools have already decided to close schools on Tuesday and Wednesday. DeKalb County Schools followed suit and canceled Tuesday classes. Likewise, city officials are encouraging Atlantans to use caution and plan accordingly.

"Citizens are urged to take prudent precautions such as filling their cars with gas, stocking up on food supplies and staying off the roads if snow and freezing rain begin to fall," Mullinax tells CL.

This story has been updated to include additional information.

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