Gov. Nathan Deal today received the internal review and action plan he ordered from state agency heads involved in emergency response during the winter storm of Jan. 26-30.
“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.”
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 met to examine the events of the winter storm, which was found to be an extremely unusual circumstance based on data from the National Weather Service.
The report includes short- and long-term solutions, some of which have already been successfully implemented. These solutions include:
• 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.