Atlanta has aspirations of being known as a major American city that’s on par with New York, Los Angeles and, to an extent, Chicago. In many ways, Atlanta has shown more progression than many other Southern cities due to its international airport and booming entertainment scene. However, the last 24 hours proved that Atlanta is only a dressed up version of Mayberry (the small fictional town from “The Andy Griffith Show”) in many aspects.
Shortly before noon on Jan. 28, light snow flurries began falling in the metro Atlanta area. Two hours and three inches of snow later, total chaos ensued citywide. Schools and businesses closed and created a traffic nightmare. Twenty-minute commutes became nine-hour journeys. Cars began to spin out of control as accidents clogged city highways and streets. By nightfall, the snow turned into ice and the chaos became a calamity.
Thousands were stuck on the highways and streets and hundreds of car crashes occurred. Several school buses filled with children were stuck on the side of the road as the students were forced to spend the night inside the bus. Some stranded students and teachers slept at schools overnight. Many individuals abandoned their cars on the side of the road and walked miles to find shelter.
It was a total failure on the part of the state and city governments. Although the weather forecast predicted snow days earlier, city and state officials did very little to prepare for the weather and traffic.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference that did very little to solve the problems. Their best answer was for individuals to stay home. That’s right, a city with “major” city aspirations completely shut down over three inches of snow.
Those answers would’ve been sufficient for a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane or tornado. But there are ways to control snow and ice on the roads. Cities in the Midwest and Northeast have mapped out the blueprint on how to handle such matters.
After the 2011 snowstorm in Atlanta, city officials claimed that more snow plows and a snow removal plan would be added to prevent a total shutdown of the city. Three years later, nothing has changed and it’s obvious that Atlanta still doesn’t know how to handle a little snow and ice.
As an Atlanta native, it’s a bit of an embarrassing reality.