Ouch! Three Mistakes in Atlanta


The recent storm in Atlanta was all over the news. Stranded cars, accidents, people hiking along the highway. People sleeping in the aisles of convenience stores. Children sleeping on the floors at school.

Snow coming down

It’s snowing!

Wait a minute!  What is wrong with this picture? This wasn’t a freak accident. This was the weather, for heaven’s sake, and we have forecasters for that!

So what went wrong?

Three mistakes we heard about immediately.

Would any of these apply for YOU and YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

1. Bad communications between agencies.

The news had been warning of the storm for at least three days. Even here in California, I caught interviews with people who were “excited that my kids will get to see snow for the first time!”

So how is it possible that people were still at work and kids were still at school, when the storm actually hit?

Apparently, the City was slow to declare an emergency, and warnings were not forwarded to the school district. Ouch!

2. People slow to respond.

Everybody who watched the news knew the storm was coming. City government. Employees and employers. Yet there they were, at 4 in the afternoon, just getting on the road to start home.

By then, it was too late. We all saw the result: mile after mile of traffic jams that kept some people trapped in their cars for 8-10 hours – including some kids stuck in school buses. (I wonder how many of those people had survival kits in their cars?)

Who was responsible for getting people out of harm’s way well before it was too late?

I think we can understand that the average citizen in the south might not really realize what happens to the roads when they are covered with snow (!), but what about those professionally trained emergency officials?

Maybe they blame it all on item #1 above?!

3. Inaccurate contact information

I haven’t been able to track down the exact statistics, but not only were some 50 kids trapped in school buses, but hundreds of students spent the night at school being cared for by their teachers because by then parents either couldn’t get to the school to pick up their kids, or earlier, the school was unable to REACH the parents.

Atlanta Public Schools has a robo-call system, and it was activated, but the Superintendent reported that “some parents didn’t get the message because of inaccurate contact information.” Ouch!

Who in your family has emergency numbers? Are they up to date? This is a simple fix to an essential piece of the emergency preparedness puzzle.

All this suggests to me . . .

  1. Individuals need to be aware of the weather.
  2. They need to understand weather watches and warnings.
  3. They need to have planned in advance how they intend to respond.
  4. And then they need to take action even in the face of INACTION by authorities!

I know that’s what we’re training our CERT members to do!

(Sorry for the ranting tone, here. I was pretty appalled at this Atlanta news.)

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  1. Russ Flanigan