Politicians criticised for response to US ice storm

Thursday 30 January 2014 20.50
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The storm swept over a region of about 60 million people largely unaccustomed to ice and snow
The storm swept over a region of about 60 million people largely unaccustomed to ice and snow
Abandoned vehicles litter the roadway in the aftermath of a winter storm in Atlanta, Georgia
Abandoned vehicles litter the roadway in the aftermath of a winter storm in Atlanta, Georgia
Thousands of motorists were stranded, many overnight, as a winter storm brought heavy snow
Thousands of motorists were stranded, many overnight, as a winter storm brought heavy snow
Drivers were stuck in their vehicles overnight as the wintery weather and accidents snarled roads and highways
Drivers were stuck in their vehicles overnight as the wintery weather and accidents snarled roads and highways
A man works to clear ice and retrieve the car he abandoned on an exit ramp in Atlanta
A man works to clear ice and retrieve the car he abandoned on an exit ramp in Atlanta
An abandoned Atlanta Public School bus sits in the ice during the winter storm in Georgia
An abandoned Atlanta Public School bus sits in the ice during the winter storm in Georgia
A message is left in the snow in a park in New York City
A message is left in the snow in a park in New York City

Politicians in the southern states of the US have faced a barrage of criticism for mishandling a rare ice storm that swept across the region.

At least 14 people were killed in the storm, but warmer weather brought some relief today.

Thousands of commuters were stranded overnight on motorways in Atlanta, Georgia as 5cm of snow brought roads to a standstill.

The parents of children trapped in several Georgia schools criticised elected leaders for failing to deal with the situation.

"Someone should have prepared the city for what a mass exodus of 1.2 million people would do to our travels," said local parent Stacy Shipman.

Officials in both political parties, Democrat and Republican, faced questions about poor planning in the metropolitan area.

It is home to more than five million people, who are heavily reliant on car travel to reach the crowded suburbs.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal angered many, including local meteorologists, when he described the storm on Tuesday as "unexpected".

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was mocked for his Tweet this week that said: "Atlanta, we are ready for the snow."

In interviews today, Mr Reed said government and school leaders shared responsibility for the errors.

He pointed out that roads within Atlanta city limits were quickly cleaned up and said city officials did not have jurisdiction over state highways in the area.

After the criticism of his officials, the governor took responsibility for the slow response.

"I'm not going to look for a scapegoat," Mr Deal told a news conference. "Our preparation was not adequate."

Schools and government offices remained closed in Atlanta and the public schools system there announced it would be closed again tomorrow.

Temperatures climbed to 4C in the area this afternoon, having been as low as -9C over the past few days.