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Atlanta's Snow Mess: An Urgent Call for Resilience

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Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
2/10/2014 2:28:11 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Epic Failure
Yep, mejiac - level-headedness would go right out the window.

That said, the storm that paralyzed many drivers in and around DC several years ago, much in this same way as this recent storm and the masses all leaving at the same time did ATL, is still referred to as a turning point among my friends (anecdotally), in how they plan their day in relation to where their child/children are at school in the cold-weather months. Also some companies took at a look at their telework policies following that mess, and so did the federal government. I think the feds are less conservative now in terms of declaring that a given {bad-weather} day is a Liberal Leave day (that's a day for when you can now work from home, without having prior authorization from your manager). I think the impact is still being felt here, and it will be looked at in Atlanta, too, at the county, city, state and federal level. I hope I'm not being overly optimistic. 

mejiac
mejiac  
2/3/2014 1:29:10 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Epic Failure
@Nicole,

I think time will tell. What might probably happen is that the locals will start demanding a more proactive approach towards responding to weather conditions, and demand better roads and have emergency responders better prepared.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/31/2014 3:11:57 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Epic Failure
I hope your assumption is right, mejiac, but it seems that the local government in Atlanta has mostly been on the defense. I haven't really heard much of anything about doing a review or investing in resilience. The response has been discouraging, to say the least.

Now, no one is faulting Atlanta for being unprepared for a rare snowfall. The event was clearly mismanaged. But I'm more concerned about how the city acts now, whether it ensures that resilience becomes a priority. Thus far, I'm not convinced that's going to happen.

mejiac
mejiac  
1/31/2014 3:11:37 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Epic Failure
@Amy,

I share your thoughts...I would go into panic mode if I were stuck in a high way, with a quarter of tank of gas, and my two kids in the back....not a pretty picture.

But it goes to show that this will probably lead both individuals and cities to try to better forecast weather conditions and it's impact on the local infrastructure... so in other words, more snowdays :)

mejiac
mejiac  
1/31/2014 3:08:27 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Epic Failure
@Nicole,

Great Article! I found myself yesterday texting many friends in that area....some said that they've been staying at home for the past week. Another took her 5 hours to get home (from a 25 min normal comute).

I think what you mention is very accurate: "What's needed is a plan for resilience, and a commitment to upgrading road and transit infrastructure so that 1 to 2 inches of snow never paralyzes the city again."

The same way cities have established prototcals on how to react to specific crime/police situations, there should be protocals for these types of events.

I'm assuming that Atlanta will probably undergo a review of upgrading existing infrastructure, so that things don't simply come to a sudden hault.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/31/2014 2:47:38 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Epic Failure
See, this is where a resilience strategy comes in handy. Let's say the city has a select number of official vehicles it sends out to transport kids home from school in the event of an emergency, and it's clearly understood citywide that this is the process, and that parents do not need to hit the streets to get to their kids. This is a made-up alternative example, but it seems feasible to me as part of an overall resilience strategy. I would imagine that the students would have gotten home a lot faster and that the gridlock would not have been so severe.

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
1/31/2014 9:49:26 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Epic Failure
And here we see how technology can be our very best friend OR our very worst enemy depending on the degree to which we use it in concert with COMMON SENSE. 

Following the GPS as it directs you through roads where a human has installed or programmed closure signs? Fail. Checking the phone to see if the highways we use are lit up in red? Win! 

That said, where kids are involved, I understand a certain level of panic in parents who will do anything to get to them. I know if it were my son there at his school and me miles away at my office, I know that initially at least I would not be making rational decisions about how to get to him. I might have taken on the herd mentality, that feeling of, well, if I'm in my car heading toward the kid, I will eventually get there. 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/30/2014 5:51:24 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Epic Failure
Simon, thanks for weighing in here. I agree with you fully. This was one of the things that was so distressing in New York during Superstorm Sandy. Many of those who were urged (begged, really) to leave their homes and head for shelter did not do so, making it much harder on the city's emergency services. That slows down progress for the entire region. So yes, the onus is on everyone to take proper precautions and to see themselves as part of the whole.

Simon Hersom
Simon Hersom  
1/30/2014 1:14:36 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Epic Failure
I have some sympathy for municipalities that used to know what their weather normally did and prepared for that norm. Now we all have to prepare for all weather possibilities, and that's a lot of cost. I have no sympathy however for people who expect everything to be as normal when conditions are abnormal and themselves take no precautions. In the UK last year we had severe snowfalls and weeks of low temperatures. This year we've has double the January rainfall and consequential flooding. Do we check the weather forecast and act accordingly? No. One of the motoring recovery organisations reported that it was being called out to customers who had followed their GPS through road closure signs until their car sank....

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
1/30/2014 10:05:53 AM
User Rank Staff
Meanwhile, in Florida...
Florida got some snow too, which is wild, but fortunately the situation wasn't quite as dramatic. Here's Buzzfeed's humorous take on the snowfall in Florida.

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