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February 10, 2014

Second chance

ATLANTA — ATLANTA (AP) — With memories of gridlock on icy Atlanta highways still fresh, Georgia officials got a second chance Monday to prove the state could prepare for winter weather. The governor declared a state of emergency hours ahead of the storm, something he didn't do two weeks ago.

Gov. Nathan Deal was widely criticized for the response to the Jan. 28 storm that paralyzed the metro area after two inches of snow fell. Drivers spent the night in frigid cars, students slept in school buses and thousands of cars were abandoned along highways. Officials reported one accident-related death.

Georgia became the brunt of late-night jokes, and some residents were skeptical the state would be better prepared this time.

"I'm not counting on it. I've been in Georgia on and off for 20 years. It's usually the same scenario, not enough preparations and not enough equipment," said Terri Herod, who bought a large bag of sand and a shovel at a Home Depot. She said her sister told her to also buy kitty litter in case her car gets stuck on an ice patch.

Atlanta has a long and painful history of being ill-equipped to deal with snowy weather and people were not taking any chances, even though officials promised the response would be different this time.

Several inches of snow and ice were forecast for the northern part of the state. Some schools were already closed Tuesday and snow plows and other equipment were getting ready.

"We're not looking back, we're looking forward," Deal said at a news conference. "The next three days are going to be challenging."

Even before the first snowflakes, people around Atlanta planned to work from home and stay off the roads. Jay Ali, 33, a college student, said he had little confidence that government officials would handle this storm any better.

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Georgia Department of Education District Effectiveness Specialist Bobby Smith educates Thomas County teachers about Georgia’s new accountability program, the College and Career Ready Performance Index, at a Tuesday meeting.

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