"Blame it on the GADOT who did nothing to treat the roads".
"Blame it on the school superintendents (and other decision makers) for not closing the schools yesterday".
"It's the parents' fault; after all, they use school as a daycare and babysitting service anyway".
As the snow which started in metro-Atlanta yesterday about 12-1pm and continued until about midnight (or slightly later), some interesting thoughts and ideas came about regarding how a 30 minute commute took 3 hours, how some people traveled in excess of 10 hours before they had to pull off on the side of the road, or did not even make it home at all.
Some may have found safe haven at a hotel, friend, or relative's house. Some students' form of safe haven is the gym floor at their school as buses ran out of fuel. And the news conference featuring Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal may not have inspired a sense of hope for those who are stuck in the ineffectively treated roads.
So what's really going on? And who is really to blame?
Let's start with the forecasts that all have access to via television, the internet, and other means. The "unexpected storm", actually is projected as soon as the weekend leading up to Tuesday's delivery of up to 4 inches (depending on the part of the state). While it is projected that in metro-Atlanta, most of the snow would be south of Interstate 20, there would be snow north of there as well. Now, from what I learned in school, in general, the further north you go, the colder it gets, so even areas north of the city should expect to get some sort of snowfall.
Tuesday morning comes and for most of metro-Atlanta, the snow starts getting amped up in the late morning to early afternoon hours. It is evident that GADOT's approach of doing nothing to the roads is the order of the day, as not too many a driver saw any sort of truck, other than those of commuters who did not drive according to the weather conditions, on the side of the road. Perhaps if they were able to employ a model of pre-treating the roads with sand and salt (to help gain traction and break up the ice), and then use a format of plowing/sand/salt about once every 2 hours, while the roads would still be an issue, maybe, just maybe, the commutes may have taken less time and the number of accidents and vehicles left on the side of the road may be a little fewer.
So it's GADOT's fault? Not exactly.
Local and state leaders (this would include the mayor and governor) clearly have some disconnect in recalling what they wrote or what they said. In January 2011, when similar conditions took place given a 4 inch snowfall on a Sunday night (which led to most of metro-Atlanta being meagerly passable for at least 4 days), the mayor notes the following:
- Mayor Kasim Reed said the next time a storm threatens, he will recruit more private contractors to supplement Atlanta's meager fleet of 10 snowplows, and he will put them to work sooner. He also said he won't wait for the state to clear main arteries within the city limits (taken from Should Atlanta have been better prepared for snow via NBC News, January 13, 2011).
Three years later, the city, and the main arteries within the city limits, are still waiting on a more deliberate action than waiting to hear from the mayor (in the comfort of warm and safe shelter while thousands are moving at the rate that rivals a snail or a sloth after it has finished eating) at a post 11pm press conference. And after the governor's equally deer-in-headlights response saying he had no warning of the storm (I knew; I thought The Weather Channel that is located about 10 miles from the Governor's Mansion or the local news told you), it makes people wonder what kind of research and thought processes are employed in working ahead of the storm, only to see that maybe, there isn't any work done at all?
So it is our local politicians' fault? Well, not exactly.
School superintendents and their staff make the final call regarding school openings, closings, or delays. A number of the people in leadership are questioned about closing school about 2 weeks ago given single-digit temperatures and 30+ mile per hour winds; however, their likely rationales ranging from weather exposure to students who walk to school or have to wait on the bus (and may not have adequate weather related clothing), to getting the buses heated in ample time actually made sense. Some systems such as Clayton County saw the threat and closed schools, but too many systems kept classes open, knowing the imminent threat of weather is looming. Some likely at least heard about January 2011 and the impact that 2-4 inches of snow can have given the overall response that local government has of waiting on Amen-Ra the Sun god to melt away the snow; maybe, just maybe, closing school for a day and making it up on the back end makes sense. Or, it made so much sense and seemed too good to be true so the response of early dismissal which seemed to be good on the surface didn't quite work out. Road conditions, early releases for people who actually went to work, and the weather got things to the point of students getting home (but safely) late, being stuck on a bus, or spending the night in a closed school building.
So it's the school's fault? Well, not exactly.
What of the parents who misuse the schools as a form of a babysitting service, the ones who do not show up for parent-teacher conferences, do not hold their children accountable for their holistic conduct (i.e. how they do in their classes, their behavior, attendance, etc.), but show up for every football, basketball, and non-academic related event possible? They are the ones who are the primary steward of their children, and since they knew (while other entities neglected the information provided) the weather could be bad, they should have kept their kids at home; that would have solved the problem?
Clearly, that logic is akin to selling ice to an Eskimo, or giving someone an empty piggy bank; that makes no sense.
The focus on parental decision-making is a small part of the overall equation. Aren't parents supposed to send their children to school? While it is true that some parents absolve themselves of involvement in the holistic process, there are a number who are involved. I guess sending your child to school to partake of the teaching and learning process as fully as possible gets put by the wayside too, and of course, we all forget a primary reason some parents took an excessive amount of time getting to school is due to the roads that are not treated, the weather, and of course, the fact that their place of business (be it their employer or their own business, because after all, how dare an adult go to work or their job to make sure they have food on the table, clothes on their child's back, and shelter-who does that kind of thing...). While it does not help that many businesses shut down for the day around the same time, their intent is to get people out of the office, off the roads before they get too dangerous, and home to their families.
I know; what a concept.
In the end, as stated in yesterday's piece, the metro-area does not have to have the same volume of resources that cities in higher and more frequent snow areas have, as it clearly would be a waste of financial resources. It is clear, however, the resources that are in place are not even adequate to handle a 4 inch snow and its after-effects, so in the end, improvements must be made. Otherwise, what happened in January 2011 and January 2014 will happen each and every time a forecast for 2, 3, 4 (or more inches) of snow descend from the sky, sticks around, and makes things as "creative" as what we are still seeing.
Instead of talking about learning from your mistakes, show what you have truly learned; if you feel this is an opportune time to add insult to injury by ticketing people for leaving their vehicles, then I'd suggest the money you think you are going to collect from tickets could be better invested in something like some salt, sand, or snowplows.
If this is what you've learned after 3 years, then clearly, we all have a lot more learning to do.