Deal Implements Reforms for Winter Storm Warnings

Georgia governor announces members of the Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force on Monday.

Like many roads across metro Atlanta when Winter Storm Leon hit last week, Northside Drive at 14th Street on Atlanta's westside was snarled in traffic. Credit: Hunt Archbold
Like many roads across metro Atlanta when Winter Storm Leon hit last week, Northside Drive at 14th Street on Atlanta's westside was snarled in traffic. Credit: Hunt Archbold

Patch Staff Report

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday immediate reforms for how the state communicates with Georgians when under a winter storm warning; he also named the Governor’s Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force, which will advise on implementation of reforms and suggest short-term and long-term solutions.

“Effective immediately, a storm warning will trigger a message to cell phones in targeted areas, as in the Amber Alert system, and advise against road travel,” said Deal in a news release. “We will go one step further with school superintendents by emailing them weather condition updates, so that they have the most up-to-date information when determining whether to close schools.

“We will overhaul the state emergency app with shelter information, alternative transportation routes and other emergency-related information. Lastly, as storms approach, I have ordered Georgia Emergency Management Agency to consult with local meteorologists on current weather modeling and predictions.

“We made reforms after the 2011 storm on how we treat our roads, and because of that, we have more road treatment facilities located in more critical areas. All the equipment and the all supplies in the world won’t help if the trucks can’t get on the roads. We’ve got to communicate quicker and more effectively on the front end to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible.”

The preparedness task force will meet in an open forum setting and deliver preparedness recommendations to Deal in a timely manner. It will convene as early as schedules will allow and issue a report within 60 days. An internal review by agency heads involved in emergency response will yield a report and action plan to the governor within 10 days.

Here is a list of the task force members:

Task Force Chairman Bart Gobeil, chief operating officer of the Governor's Office; GEMA executive director Charley English; GDOT Comissioner Keith Golden; Georgia Department of Natural Resources Comissioner Mark Williams, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough, Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth with the Department of Defense, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority executive director Jannine Miller, State Road and Tollway Authority executive director Chris Tomlinson, WSB-TV meteorologist Glenn Burns, WGCL-TV meteorologist Markina Brown, WAGA-TV meteorologist Ken Cook, WXIA-TV Meteorologist Chesley McNeil, Fulton County Schools superintendent Robert Avossa, Marietta City Schools superintendent Emily Lembeck, DeKalb County Schools superintendent Michael Thurmond, MARTA general manager Keith Parker, Georgia Motor Trucking president & CEO Ed Crowell, HTNB Corp. vice-president and former Connecticut DOT commissioner Jeffrey Parker, Georgia Power executive vice-president for customer service and operations Anthony Wilson, Georgia Transmission Corportation president Jerry Donovan, Metro Atlanta Chamber president Hala Moddelmog, Delta senior vice-president for airport customer service and tech-ops Gil West, Georgia state Sen. Steve Thompson, Georgia state Sen. Steve Gooch, Georgia House Member Jay Roberts, Georgia House Member Mike Glanton, Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, and members to be named from the National Weather Service, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and a metro Atlanta municipality.

Information in this report was supplied by the governor's office and edited for publication.


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