Shana Yavari / youthjournalism.org
From an apartment in Buckhead, a city on the northern side of Atlanta, a view of traffic clogging the highway on Tuesday.
By Johanna Boedenauer
NORCROSS, Georgia, U.S.A. – As I tread through my neighborhood and observe children scrape together snow, in an effort to create a perhaps doll-sized snowman, I can’t help but shake my head at what people are calling Atlanta’s “Snowpocalypse.”
Two inches of snow was all it took to create statewide turmoil.
On Thursday morning, Georgians were still waiting to get home. Drivers are just beginning to retrieve abandoned vehicles, as the ice gradually melts under the southern sun.
A now rather shamed Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted early Tuesday morning, “Atlanta, we are ready for the snow,” a statement which turned out to be far from the truth.
According to the Associated Press, more than a dozen people died and more than 175 more were injured in the more than 1,460 crashes that state police responded to during the storm.
Madeleine Soultz / youthjournalism.org
Five car pileup in an Atlanta
neighborhood on Tuesday.
In a “Newsy” broadcast on The Weather Channel’s website, the mayor and Gov. Nathan Deal got blamed for poor planning, and a less than adequate response. Reed and Deal are accountable for “turning Metro Atlanta into a parking lot, and schools into hotels.”
The reason for such a terrible delay? Schools and businesses, which usually always remain closed at the first warning of snow, stayed open until about noon.
At that point, the storm was already underway and everyone was let out at the same time Wednesday afternoon, causing one of the worst traffic jams in American history. This prevented snowplows and salt trucks from getting to the roads, making travel throughout the city virtually impossible.
As the snow turned to ice, cars were unable to maneuver through certain areas, which caused hundreds of accidents, blocking off more roads.
Eventually, cars ran out of gas and conditions worsened. Hundreds of people were forced to spend all night camping inside their vehicles in temperatures below freezing.
Many children remained in school for the night, while some were stranded on the interstate in buses. Stories of six to 14-hour commutes home were not at all uncommon on Wednesday.
Shana Yavari / youthjournalism.org
Middle and high school students at the Atlanta International School take to the snowy soccer field Tuesday.
Just three years ago, Atlanta suffered a similar snowstorm that incapacitated the city for days.
Deal mentioned during a news conference Wednesday that they were prepared with much more equipment than in the previous storm, but couldn’t implement it due to blocked roads.
Julia Balte / youthjournalism.org
Snow covers Buckhead, a city on the northern side of Atlanta,
The upside to all of this is that the disaster managed to unite people, young and old.
Throughout the night, southern hospitality shone like never before. Strangers helped strangers push cars and buses, people handed out water and free hot chocolate, and some kind families even opened their homes, giving stranded people a warm place to stay for the night.
Photo courtesy of Bettina Dorsch
On a snow day off from school Wednesday, Anna Fritz and Julia Dorsch, both 15, scraped enough snow together to build doll-sized snowmen.
Officials admitted to mistakes and apologized for any inconveniences their actions caused. Reed said they should have staggered when people went home, first releasing schools, then businesses and finally government workers.
It seems that with each storm that hits the south, we learn a little bit more. Hopefully, by the next one, we’ll get it right.