About two inches of snow, along with frigid, below-freezing temperatures and icy roads caused traffic jams that turned into traffic nightmares last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Crews in Fulton County spread more than 300 tons of sand and two tons of calcium chloride while responding to icy road conditions in unincorporated Fulton County,” said Facilities and Transportation Director David Ricks, adding crews also worked on de-icing 43 bridges and 14 roads.
“Particular areas of concern in south Fulton were Flat Shoals Road from Old National Highway to the Union City line,” said Ricks.
“Sand spreaders were also deployed to address ice on Cascade Road.”
While many motorists suffered being stranded overnight throughout the county, schools in College Park, Union City and East Point kept their students at schools to avoid the treacherous roads.
“According to national weather forecasts for the area, we expected a light dusting of snow and never anticipated that we wouldn’t be able to get our students home,” said Fulton County school board member Catherine Maddox.
Many school buses in the county, such as those at Westlake High, could not traverse the hilly roads covered in ice.
“We had to make the unfortunate decision to keep our students at school due to extreme concerns for our children’s safety,” said Maddox.
“We will have to make up school days as required by law, but the board hasn’t met yet with Superintendent Robert Avossa to find out when that will happen.”
Although Maddox said the school system has already started reevaluating their weather and emergency procedures, she said the county was thankful for the assistance of local police, fire and emergency personnel.
“Union City and East Point emergency services were outstanding with helping our schools during this crisis,” Maddox said.
“Union City Police took blankets over to Banneker High School and East Point police delivered at least seven children home from schools. We had continuous communications with south Fulton’s mayors, fire chiefs and police chiefs and our students were everyone’s top priority.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took the blame for schools, businesses and government all letting out at the same time and said they should have staggered their closings.
“I’m not thinking about a grade right now,” Reed said when asked about the city’s response.
“I’m thinking about getting people out of their cars.”
The Georgia State Patrol said there were about 2,000 vehicles abandoned along the state’s freeways due to the snowstorm. In an email Monday, Atlanta spokesman Carlos Campos said the city did not yet have information on the number of vehicles towed, the number of people sheltered, the number of staff overtime hours used or the total estimated cost of the storm cleanup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.