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City council gets preliminary snowstorm report
by Bobby Tedder
February 06, 2014 03:14 PM | 1355 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With last month’s snowstorm still fresh on their minds, officials gave Sandy Springs’ overall response to the crisis a favorable review.

The critique by City Manager John McDonough — which also identified room for improvement — came during Tuesday’s city council meeting at City Hall.

“We’re going to turn our [findings] into a report over the next couple of weeks,” McDonough said. “We’ll be taking the lessons learned and determine what we need to do going forward in the event that we’ll have another one of these [storms] and we will have another one of these at some point in the future.”

A wintry mix of snow and ice struck the metro Atlanta area Jan. 28 through 30, rendering roads unsafe to travel and stranding many residents.

“Some of our success [stemmed] from the fact that we recognized early on that this was going to be a major event, a life-and-death situation for people from a shelter standpoint,” McDonough said.

He listed the city’s adequate supply of road treatment and “excellent” demonstration of situational awareness among the pros to be taken away from the experience.

Communication with other agencies was among the challenges McDonough outlined.

“This is not to say that we didn’t talk to outside agencies; we did,” he said. “It’s more about [the lack of] action.”

Access to regional emergency supplies was also identified as an area in need of shoring up. The city manager’s preliminary evaluation included a call to purchase similar items — to officials, merchants and residents.

“I think one of the major things that everyone learns is that you cannot count on the higher levels of the government in the event of an emergency,” McDonough said. “You have to be prepared for a minimum of 72 hours on your own and perhaps longer — if [Hurricane] Katrina taught us anything.”

City staffers from several departments and partnering private firms were singled out and awarded plaques Tuesday for their efforts during the snowstorms.

The city’s new emergency call center, which became operational Jan. 1, fielded more than 2,000 calls between Jan. 28 and 31. About 320 people took refuge from the weather in local shelters as arranged by Sandy Springs workers and volunteers.

Mayor Rusty Paul saluted the “whole team” for a job well done.

“It is not that we were without problems; we had significant problems,” Paul said. However, “I have never ever been more proud of the community — from the professional staff, elected leadership and just ordinary citizens who stepped up to help.

“I talk a whole lot about the need to build community. … Last Tuesday and Wednesday, we proved that we were a community.”

In other business, council members voted unanimously their approval of a deal to purchase the property at 4697 Wieuca Road, home to Sandy Springs Fire Station 4, for $1.2 million from the city of Atlanta.
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