A woman sleeps at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, two days after a winter snow storm, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. More than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
When the snow started falling Tuesday and cars lined up on the highways, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed were at an awards luncheon, smiling and back-slapping each other as the Republican governor introduced the Democratic mayor, who was named a local magazine’s “Georgian of the Year.”
Just 40 minutes earlier, the mayor declared via Twitter: “Atlanta, we are ready for the snow.”
Within hours, the metropolitan area was in gridlock with tens of thousands of people, including some children on school buses, stranded on icy, wreck-strewn roads. Two days later, the ice was thawing, the children were home and abandoned vehicles were being reclaimed, yet Deal and Reed have scrambled to explain how it all happened after the National Weather Service — despite the governor’s claims to the contrary — clearly warned of a dangerous scenario.
Both men have played the blame game delicately, perhaps knowing political futures are sometimes made or squashed by storm preparations and response, and that the city that has a long and painful past of being ill-prepared for nasty winter weather.
Reed, who recently began his second term, holds ambition for a statewide run, possibly for governor. Deal is running for re-election this year, and Democrats believe he is vulnerable.
On Thursday, the governor offered his clearest apology yet. He acknowledged he was sleeping in wee hours of Tuesday morning when the National Weather Service upgraded its warning for the entire metro area, and he said his administration didn’t prepare well enough.
“Certainly things could have Login to read more