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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Disaster Down South- BBC

US deep South snow storm maroons motorists

Barely 3in (7.62cm) of snow brought the giant southern city of Atlanta to its knees, reports the BBC's David Willis

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Thousands of people were left stranded overnight on motorways, in schools and churches as a snow storm spawned traffic chaos in the US deep South.

Airports and roads were closed as five states declared emergencies.

Military vehicles were deployed to aid stranded motorists and to reach those in need of food and water.

Barely 3in (7.6cm) of snow caused havoc in a warm-weather region where many cities do not even have snow ploughs or fleets of salt trucks.

Hundreds of road accidents were reported, a number of them involving lorries jack-knifing on highways.

Despite ample weather warnings, school officials waited until the middle of Tuesday when snow was already falling to send students home on routes where traffic was grinding to a halt.

Nearly 8,000 students across Georgia and Alabama spent the night in school gyms or on buses, reports ABC News.

Footage shows chaos caused by snow across the US

Many commuters abandoned cars along jammed motorways to seek shelter in churches and fire stations.

Gridlock on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, was so bad that a police officer had to deliver a baby on a snowy motorway.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said on Wednesday morning that the National Guard had sent military Humvees on to the city's motorways to move stranded school buses and provide food and water to people.

A school bus flipped over as it was driving students home amid dismal weather near Asheville, North Carolina.

Motorists were instructed to stay off roadways in the US states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, where states of emergency were declared.

"Residents should not overreact but should make plans now to ensure they are prepared for prolonged freezing conditions and icy roadways," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant told US media.

At least six people were killed in weather-related accidents, five in Alabama on Tuesday. Four people died early on Tuesday in a Mississippi caravan fire blamed on a faulty heater.

New Orleans's main airport, which was closed on Tuesday, has reopened with a reduced service.
Some 1,700 flights across the US were grounded on Wednesday.

State legislature activities in South Carolina were also cancelled due to weather.

The latest cold snap stretched across much of the US on Wednesday, sending temperatures as low as -34C (-30F).

The extreme weather also brought out many Good Samaritans who offered food and shelter to strangers battling the elements.

"I got some tea from some kids, from them and their mom," stranded motorist Rebekah Cole told CNN amid a then-10 hour commute in Atlanta.

But officials faced Atlanta residents angry the city had not taken more precaution.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Mr Deal apologised on Wednesday for the region's epic traffic jams.
Officials advised drivers to stay off the roads on Wednesday evening and Thursday as crews work to remove stranded cars and help commuters make their way home.

"What I'm thinking of every moment is how to get people out of their cars," Mr Reed said, as quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A National Guardsman prepared to tow a car in Dunwoody, Georgia, on 29 January 2014 A National Guardsman prepared to tow a car in Dunwoody, Georgia
People rest in the aisle of a Publix grocery store after being stranded due to a snow storm in Atlanta, Georgia, on 29 January 2014 People sheltered in an Atlanta grocery store during a snow storm
A vehicle ran off the road during a snow storm in Canton, Georgia, on 28 January 2014  Hundreds of accidents were reported as snow and ice descended on the Deep South
A man stood on a frozen roadway along Interstate 75 in Macon, Georgia, on 29 January 2014 There were extreme traffic delays along roads in Georgia
Traffic inched along an Atlanta, Georgia, interstate on 28 January 2014 Gridlock in Atlanta, Georgia
A good Samaritan walked along a highway in Atlanta, Georgia, offering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot drinks to motorists on 29 January 2014 A Good Samaritan offers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot drinks to stranded Atlanta motorists
A student played an electronic game at Oak Mountain Intermediate school in Indian Springs, Alabama, on 29 January 2014 Roughly 80 children and 20 adults were instructed to shelter at an Alabama school on Tuesday evening due to a winter storm
Motorists abandoned their vehicles along Georgia Highway 140 in Canton, Georgia, on 28 January 2014 Motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles along a Georgia highway