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Deal announces storm response reforms, names task force

2/3/2014, 4:35 p.m.
Nathan Deal

— Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday immediate reforms for how the state communicates with Georgians when under a winter storm warning.

Deal 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.

The task force includes meteorologists from four Atlanta television news channels, along with the heads of Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia National Guard, the DeKalb, Fulton and Marietta school districts, state senators and representatives, Atlanta Police and Fire departments, along with other private sector companies.

“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. “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.

Click here for a list of the appointees to Gov. Deal's severe weather task force.