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Gov. Deal gets internal review back from Snowjam 2014

8:44 PM, Mar 4, 2014   |    comments
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I-75 near I-285 northwest of Atlanta

ATLANTA -- After the first winter storm in January that turned into Snowjam 2014, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered an internal review and action plan from state agency heads.

Tuesday he got that review and plan back.

"Our state experienced two severe winter storms in two weeks, events that tested the resilience and preparedness of all Georgians," Deal said. "Following the first storm, I implemented immediate action items as well as initiated an internal review by state agency heads. The action items paid off. Our state for the second storm was more informed and prepared through the cellphones alerts, emails to school superintendents and consultations with local meteorologists. The safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance, and this report will play a key role in shaping the way our state government agencies prepare for and prevent dangerous winter weather situations."

FULL REPORT | Read the complete internal report prepared for the governor here.

State agency heads from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation were part of the internal review.

The report includes short- and long-term solutions, including:

- Implement an immediate action plan, which would overhaul the "Ready Georgia" mobile application, trigger cellphone alerts in times of weather-related emergencies, establish a communications plan with school superintendents and create a weather advisory group with local meteorologists

- Change laws regarding commercial vehicles, establishing stricter enforcement and punishment of those found in violation of the current state law concerning tire chains and emergency equipment

- Create strike teams of seven vehicles placed in strategic locations to provide rapid response during weather emergencies

- Improve GDOT's ability to respond to emergency weather situations through updated equipment, storage, supply needs and enhancements such as pavement sensors to monitor road conditions

- Promote operational and procedural enhancements with small incremental costs, including creating a Joint Information Center, coordinate communication with the trucking industry and the full utilization of electronic billboards on highways

In addition to its other duties, the Governor's Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force will review the report and make any further recommendations.  11Alive's Chesley McNeil is part of that team.

That task force held its second meeting on Tuesday. McNeil said the force was broken into groups to discuss storm preparation. The resounding theme that came back, McNeil said, was better education and better communication.

Schools want to educate parents on weather policies and procedures. Utility companies are coming up with ways to keep power on during weather emergencies. State agencies want to educate the public to have individual storm plans.

The task force will present its findings to Gov. Deal on March 25.

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