Winter Emergency Declared: State and Local Offices Closed Wednesday

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    Lisa Carter sign waves for Liberty Tax on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Atlanta on January 28, 2014 – photo by Rebeeca Breyer

    ATLANTA – The winter storm that paralyzed metro Atlanta and other parts of Georgia prompted Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon for all 159 counties in the state.

    After a review of  Emergency Operations with emergency management officials and first responder, Deal signed a state of emergency declaration related to the winter storm.

    Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed urged motorists to stay off the roads, if possible, so that city crews could continue efforts to clear snow and ice.

    Shortly before midnight, about 50 students were still aboard Atlanta Public School buses, a spokeswoman for the district said. In DeKalb County, at least 20 vehicles were involved in a pileup on U.S. 78 eastbound, past Hugh Howell Road. All lanes were blocked around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

    “DeKalb County has endured heavy sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Many of our county roads are impassable due to ice, traffic gridlock or both, caused by the sudden and severe winter weather,” said Dekalb County Interim CEO Lee May. “If at all possible, I am urging everyone to stay off the roads until conditions improve. DeKalb Public Safety and Public Works employees are working 24 hours to get conditions back to safety and normalcy.”

    Late Tuesday night, the Georgia State Patrol said troopers had investigated 940 crashes resulting in one death and 104 injuries. Yvonne C. Nash, 60, of Griffin, died after losing control of her Ford Explorer in Coweta County, the GSP said.

    “People [were] panicking trying to get home and it caused worse problems,” said Karlene Barron, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, adding that people are traveling too fast for conditions.

    State and county administrative offices, including Parks and Recreation facilities, senior centers, water billing offices, Recorders Court and other administrative divisions will be closed Wednesday and report at normal business hours on Thursday morning.

    The state of emergency declaration opens up resources necessary for government response. It also activates the DeKalb County Operations Plan, which assigns specific responsibilities to certain agencies.

    Georgia residents are urged to use extreme caution and check their local news for updates regarding severe weather. Tips for getting through cold weather safely and a listing for non-emergency numbers for various county departments are available at www.georgia.gov.

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