Most people in metro Atlanta returned to work Friday, as much of the rain, sleet, snow and ice that covered metro Atlanta Tuesday night and Wednesday melted or washed away.
Following the lessons learned from Snowjam 2014 two weeks earlier, officials in Atlanta and Sandy Springs were more cautious in dealing with last week’s winter storm. That strategy made it easier to handle because the weather hit the area at night, after most residents had gone home.
Also, all local school districts — Atlanta Public Schools, the Cobb County School District and Fulton County Schools — cancelled classes for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week in anticipation of the snowstorm. Local students already had Friday off as a planned teacher furlough day or student holiday.
Unlike the previous snowstorm, when some officials were caught off guard and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted the city was ready for the winter weather, last week Reed was in contact with school leaders and the city had 120 pieces of equipment to spread salt and sand and plow snow. The National Guard had 1,400 four-wheel-drive vehicles to help anyone stranded.
“We are just going to get out here and, flat out, let our work speak for itself,” Reed said.
Atlanta spokeswoman Anne Torres said last week the city could not provide information on the amount of salt and sand used to treat the roads or the number of customers in the city that were without power.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said he was pleased with the city’s response to last week’s snowstorm.
“I thought we did real well last time but because of last time we were even more prepared this time,” he said. “What was even better was people were home, which allowed us to treat our streets more effectively. We wanted people to stay home and they did. …
“We were able to keep the streets open for emergency traffic. As a result we had no babies being born on [Interstate] 285 or things like that [which happened during Snowjam 2014]. I got an email from one of the emergency room docs at Northside [Hospital] who thanked us for keeping the streets around the hospital open, which made it easier for people who were coming in for genuine emergencies.”
Sandy Springs city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said it had 1,765 homes without power at its peak, but all were re-stored by the end of the week. She also said the city used an estimated 600 to 700 tons of treatment materials for the roads.
“We had never really demobilized [crews] from the last one,” Paul said of the previous winter storm. “We did have to get additional salt and sand. We had what under normal circumstances would be a three-year supply and we used 80 percent of it [two weeks earlier].
“We had to send trucks to Charleston, S.C., [last week] to get more. … There’s been an awful lot of roads salted and sanded. … We were fortunate that we didn’t get a lot of freezing rain. … We had one of our personnel in the Georgia Power emergency operation center. That really helped with the dispatching of Georgia Power trucks.”
No city-owned buildings or properties were damaged by the storm or without power, Kraun said. The city, which had six shelters during the snowstorm two weeks earlier, had one ready for this one at Hammond Park but no residents used it.
Georgia Power spokeswoman Katherine Weitzman said Friday the utility had about 701,000 cumulative power out-ages since the start of last week’s snowstorm, the largest amount in about 10 years.
Though Georgia Power does not break down the number of past power outages by zip code or county, its website does track current power outages by those categories. Weitzman did say at the storm’s peak there were about 26,000 customers in the metro east area (DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties) and about 229,000 in the metro south area (Fulton, Clayton, Coweta, Fayette, Henry and Butts counties), the hardest hit one in greater Atlanta.
Georgia Power defines a customer by a home or business receiving electricity from the utility. As of Saturday, the zip codes the Neighbor Newspapers cover, which have a combined 151,747 customers, had no power outages.
“The storm, which shifted south as it entered Georgia, has had an even greater impact than originally predicted causing heavy damage south of I-20, specifically in metro Atlanta and Augusta,” Weitzman said.
By Monday morning, according to Georgia Power’s website, there were only 13 power outages affecting 14 customers in metro Atlanta. Statewide, there were 117 power outages affecting about 520 customers, most of which were in the Augusta area. Weitzman said Georgia Power did not yet have information on the cost of restoring power to the state’s customers during and after the storm.
“We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our crews and visiting utilities,” she said. “The company has personnel in the field 24 hours a day until all customers are back online. We are constantly repositioning and relocating our teams to outages based on needs and resources.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.