Gov. Nathan Deal said at a lunchtime press conference that the National Guard and Georgia State Patrol would escort school buses in Fulton County and City of Atlanta to get more than 2,000 stranded students home today.
Deal said there were still 2,000 students sheltering in place at Fulton County Schools and now just 400 at Atlanta Public Schools. He said DeKalb County had fared well, with only six students needing shelter overnight at a local police precinct.
Work continues on clearing roadways, with traffic starting to move on the top end of the Perimeter. Officials said getting 18-wheelers and vehicles off the road was a priority, especially on I-20 west at Six Flags and on I-75 at 285. “Our goal today is that there will not be anyone stranded in a vehicle that hasn’t been given the opportunity to go to a shelter,” Deal said.
Deal said state government offices would remain closed on Thursday and encouraged businesses to close since temperatures remain below freezing and more road treatment will be necessary.
Reporters hammered Deal and his staff with questions about the state’s preparedness for the storm and questioned why a state of emergency wasn’t declared before the storm hit and why local meteorologist’s predictions were ignored. Deal said the state relied on the National Weather Service models, which showed metro Atlanta would not bare the brunt of the storm.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English said the emergency operations center was only partially operational by 3 p.m. on Tuesday and appeared clueless to the condition of metro roads, denying they were heavily gridlocked. Deal quickly cut him off and disagreed with that assessment.