Winter Storm Leon hit the city of Atlanta much harder than expected and has left thousands of residents stranded on major highways. Meanwhile, residents have become increasingly frustrated with what they feel has been an inadequate response to the storm.
It has been a full 24 hours since Leon arrived and the icy road conditions have shut down several major highways and prevented travelers from making their way home.
The ice on the roads wasn’t the only problem.
Around 1 p.m. all local business, schools, and government buildings were closed, leading to thousands of commuters hitting the roads at once.
Almost immediately traffic came to a standstill and Atlanta residents wanted to know who was responsible for what they considered a lack of preparation.
According to Mayor Kasim Reed, the finger shouldn’t be pointed at him.
“People were making a lot of independent decisions,” Reed said during a news conference in reference to more than 1 million commuters getting on the road at once. “What we will do in the future is try to coordinate that, and make a strong recommendation about how that should flow.”
Reed also emphasized the lack of fatalities caused by the weather.
“We got 1 million people in the City of Atlanta out of the city; we haven’t had any fatalities in the City of Atlanta; we got all of the children who were on school buses in the APS system off of those buses, and I’ve been communicating with the people of the city on a constant basis,” he added.
Gov. Nathan Deal said the process of getting people off the road would be a “significant” one but reminded reporters that significant progress has been made.
The National Guard and state troops have taken children to their homes and escorted school buses through icy streets.
More than 800 car accidents have been reported thus far with more than 100 injuries reported as well.
Stores like CVS, Home Depot, Whole Foods, Kroger and WalMart have opened their doors to stranded commuters and allowed them to stay overnight.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has faith that the roads will be restored to normal soon.
“This has been an ordeal for everyone,” said Georgia DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. “This storm and the bitter temperatures have caused so much difficulty, discomfort and anxiety for so many Georgians. We believe roadways will be restored to some level of normalcy today but would encourage the public to remain home, preferably all day.”
Residents are urging city officials to get more salt trucks on the roads, however, the heavy traffic is preventing the large vehicles from running efficiently.