State issues plan to help drivers retrieve abandoned cars - FOX 32 News Chicago

State issues plan to help drivers retrieve abandoned cars

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Georgia Department of Transportation camera screen shot Georgia Department of Transportation camera screen shot

 

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Late Wednesday evening, the Governor's office announced a plan to help drivers recover abandoned vehicles that continue to clutter Metro-area roadways. FULL NEWS RELEASE:

"Beginning Thursday morning, state agencies, to include Georgia State Patrol (GSP), National Guard and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) HEROs will be available to transport motorists to vehicles abandoned on Atlanta interstates during the recent winter storm. Clearing these vehicles expediently is a critical factor in GDOT's efforts to reopen all lanes to traffic."

Two staging areas for transport will open at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30.

• Drivers who left their vehicles on I-20 and I-285 west should report to the Westlake MARTA station (parking area), 80 Anderson Ave. SW, Atlanta.

• Drivers who left their vehicles on I-75, the top end of I-285 and the Downtown Connector (I-75/I-85) should report to Mount Paran Church (parking area), 2055 Mount Paran Road, Atlanta.

Once there, drivers will be transported by official personnel in a 4-wheel-drive to their vehicle. There will be fuel available for vehicles that ran out of gas as well as the capability to jump off a dead battery.

GSP will have a database to help motorists locate their vehicle if it was towed to an impound lot and provide transportation to the facility.

Motorists should bring car keys and driver's license to Check-In."

11:00 P.M. UPDATE: "Georgia DOT urges motorists to stay off the roadways. Hazardous driving conditions continue throughout Georgia. Department of Transportation crews are active throughout affected areas but Georgia DOT is urging motorists to stay off of highways as conditions are likely to continue to deteriorate until temperatures rise. The Department advises the public to refrain from all but absolutely necessary travel until midday Thursday at the earliest.

Traffic has hampered Georgia DOT crews from treating the roads and clearing incidents; Department officials are hopeful that continued minimal traffic will allow for a full recovery. GDOT crews are spreading a salt/rock mixture on all bridges and road surfaces."

5:30 P.M. UPDATE: Gov. Nathan Deal said in a tweet, "all metro schoolchildren are home safe and sound."

5 P.M. UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued a civil emergency message at the request Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

The civil emergency message will be effect until noon Thursday and affects the following counties: Fulton, Cherokee, DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Douglas, Rockdale Fayette and Henry.

The message was issued as a warning that black ice still exists on roads, especially under bridges and overpasses. Hundreds of vehicles also remain abandoned on roadways.

4:35 P.M. UPDATE: Temperatures have topped out for the day and will now begin falling, according to FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Ken Cook. Lows will reach the teens overnight, which will refreeze any ice that melted on Wednesday. The sun will return on Thursday at 10 a.m., and temperatures will rise above freezing.

4:30 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Department of Transportation officials are urging drivers - especially tractor trailers - to avoid interstates in the metro Atlanta region.

4:10 P.M. UPDATE: The DeKalb County School District has announced that it will be closed for all students and employees on Thursday. Click here for a complete list of weather-related closures.

3:53 P.M. UPDATE: Authorities in Henry County say a 17-year-old Locust Grove High School student was killed in a crash on Tuesday. They did not indicate if the crash was related to the weather.

3:10 P.M. UPDATE: Atlanta Public Schools has announced closures for Thursday. Essential personnel are expected to report to Duty. Click here for a complete list of weather-related closures.

3 P.M. UPDATE: More than 47,000 people have joined the group "Snowed Out Atlanta," which was created by Michelle Sollicito to help put those in need of aid with those that are willing to help. FOX 5's Paul Milliken talked to Sollicito. Click here for that interview.

2:30 P.M. UPDATE: The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless says it needs food, blankets and bottled water to help with those seeking refuge after the snow.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can bring them to 477 Peachtree Street between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

2:35 P.M. UPDATE: With the sun out, there have been reports of thawing in some areas. FOX 5 Storm Team meteorologist Jeff Hill warns that with freezing temperatures, that moisture will turn to ice and create hazards on the roads tonight.

Lows tonight will be in the teens, Hill says. The good news is that we should start seeing a warmup on Thursday, with temperatures finally rising above freezing. By Friday, high temperatures will reach the 50s.

12:30 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said thousands of children spent the night at schools overnight Tuesday.

In an hour-long news conference, Deal said that the National Guard will help escort many of those children home on Wednesday.

Deal said it would probably be better for drivers to attempt to get their abandoned vehicles from roadways on Thursday.

In other news, MARTA has suspended bus service until further notice. For more info, visit: http://www.itsmarta.com/

The Atlanta Hawks game against the Detroit Pistons scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

10:55 A.M. UPDATE: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed strongly defended the city's response to the snow emergency on Tuesday. In a news conference, Reed said that the problem arose when everyone hit the roads at the same time, clogging up freeways and hampering crews efforts to clear the roads of ice. In the future, Reed said that dismissals should be staggered, with schools being let out first.

Reed said there have been fatalities reported in the city. He said the biggest challenge now is trying to get stranded drivers off of the roads. He said he is working with the Georgia National Guard, GDOT and the Georgia State Patrol.

Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said that fire stations are being used as warming stations for stranded motorists. He said about 115 people were currently at stations.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said that about eight schools had students stay overnight on Tuesday. Some 400 students stayed overnight at North Atlanta High School, according to Turner. Mayor Reed advised parents to wait on attempting to pick up their children, stressing they were safe and urging people to stay off of roads.

9:55 A.M. UPDATE: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is set to hold a news conference during the 10 a.m. hour Watch it live above.

9:45 A.M. UPDATE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has planned an 11:30 a.m. news conference to discuss the latest on the state's response to the snow emergency. Watch Deal's comments live on the link above. On Tuesday night, Deal said he was deploying National Guard members to assist in road relief efforts.

9 A.M. UPDATE: Images from SKYFOX show abandoned and stranded vehicles strewn across interstates and highways across the metro Atlanta area. (WATCH LIVE STREAM OF SKYFOX 5 here) Some drivers reported spending as much as 16 hours in their cars, while numerous students were forced to stay at their schools overnight. Click here for the latest GDOT updates.

Atlanta Public Schools issued a statement saying, "Atlanta Public Schools can confirm that all of the 50 students who were previously reported as still being on buses have been transported safely. We have several hundred students who are sheltered in place at schools primarily in the north and west region of the city. There were a few challenges to food delivery at some locations, but all students did receive food thanks to the Atlanta Police Department, our resourceful staff, and the generosity of communities. Students are safe and continue to be supervised by staff and resource officers. The Georgia State Patrol is also on site."

FOX 5 Storm Team meteorologist Joanne Feldman said that the Winter Storm Warning has been extended until 1 p.m. to account for continued dangerous conditions that exist in the area. After 1 p.m., another advisory could be issued, Feldman.

When will the ice and snow begin to melt? With temperatures still in the teens early Wednesday, it likely won't happen any time soon. By 1 p.m., most areas still won't be out of freezing temperatures.

7:00 A.M. UPDATE: (GDOT) • Numerous roads throughout the state have at times been temporarily impassable, including Interstate Highway 75/85 (The Atlanta Downtown Connector) southbound at I-20, at University Avenue and at Fulton Street, Interstate Highway 20 westbound at the Connector, Interstate Highway 85 southbound in Gwinnett County at Hamilton Mill Road, numerous Interstate 75 entrance and exit ramps in Cobb County, north and southbound I-75 in Bartow County at State Route 20, Interstate Highway 575 northbound in Cherokee County at Cumming Highway, Interstate Highway 985 southbound in Hall County at State Route 129, Interstate 75 NB beginning in Monroe County at mile marker 181, Interstate 75 SB between mile markers 199 and 201 in Butts and Lamar Counties, SR 155 at SR 42 in Henry County, Interstate 75 NB near Rumble Road in Monroe County, Interstate Highway 20 westbound in Richmond County, State Route 16 at the Spalding/Coweta counties line, US 78/State Route 10 in Gwinnett County, State Route 141 north and southbound in Gwinnett, State Route 9 north and southbound in Forsyth County, State Route 164 east and westbound in Banks County, State Route 120 eastbound in Haralson County, State Route 61 in Carroll County, State Route 36 near Nelson Drive in Upson County, State Route 49 at State Route 42 in Peach County, State Route 156 east and west bound in Gordon County, portions of State Routes 14, 38 and 92 in Fulton County.

• Very hazardous conditions also are reported in Gwinnett County at US 78/SR 10 West Park Place into Hugh Howell in DeKalb County and I-85 Collector Distributor ramps, Pleasant Hill Road (Exit 105) to Old Peachtree Road (Exit 109).

• Crews are working at all locations but black ice accumulations often result in a corridor having to be temporarily closed multiple times.

The only roads officially closed for the duration at this time are the customary winter weather closings of State Route 180 Spur in Towns County and a portion of State Route 348 in White County.

12:45 A.M. UPDATE: The Georgia State Patrol said that its troopers worked 940 accidents between 10 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday. One of those crashes was a fatality and there were 104 injuries.

According to GSP, 60-year-old Yvonne Nash, of Griffin, died after her 1997 Ford Explorer left the roadway on Georgia Highway 85 and crashed into a ditch. The vehicle flipped upside down. Nash was transported to Piedmont Fayette Hospital, where she later died.

12:22 A.M. UPDATE: Cars remain at a standstill on Interstate 285 in Sandy Springs. FOX 5's Jaclyn Schultz said that some people were leaving their cars and walking to find shelter. Officials have not put a timeframe on when drivers can return to pick up their vehicles. Click here for the latest GDOT update.

12:11 A.M. UPDATE: The Associated Press reports more than 3 inches of snow fell in some areas of north Georgia.

11:55 P.M. UPDATE: Due to continued icy road conditions throughout Fulton County, Fulton County Government facilities that are normally open to the public will be closed on Wednesday, January 29.

Click here for the latest GDOT update.

11:20 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal held a news conference late Tuesday to discuss the winter storm that brought the metro Atlanta area to a standstill.

Deal said that Georgia National Guard members are being deployed to assist stranded motorists.

State government will be closed on Wednesday, and people are encouraged to stay off of roads as crews work to melt ice.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said there were no reports of fatalities pledged that crews would work through the night to clear roads.

10:45 P.M. UPDATE: FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist said the snow is mostly done falling for the night, now the thawing out remains. Areas north of the metro Atlanta area got from 1 to 2 inches of snow, while areas south of I-20 received 2 to 3 inches. Some isolated places may have gotten up to 5 inches, Ken said.

The Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until Wednesday morning as roads remain icy and potentially dangerous.

View pictures from today's snow here.

10:30 P.M. UPDATE:  Atlanta Public Schools' spokesperson Kimberly Willis Green issued a statement saying, "Atlanta Public Schools has called an emergency Shelter in Place for all students and staff who remain in schools due to inclement weather and adverse road conditions. We will continue to transport students who are already enroute on buses, and parents will still be permitted to pick up students. For students who are sheltered in our schools, we will ensure proper security, supervision, and food. District leadership will continue to monitor the weather to provide additional updates."

8:50 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Power is reporting that several hundred people are without power in the metro Atlanta area. Click here for an interactive power outage map.

Most school systems have announced closures for Wednesday. Click here for the full list.

Traffic continues to be jammed across town.

Click here for a list of shelters open in the area.

The FOX 5 team is gearing up for the latest updates tonight on FOX 5 News at 10 and the News Edge at 11.

8 P.M. UPDATE: Atlanta has received 2.3 inches of snow so far today, according to FOX 5 Storm Team meteorologist Steve Milone. That's a new record for snow on this date.

7:40 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson Mark McKinnon said that the traffic jam caused when businesses and schools let out on Tuesday afternoon hampered efforts by crews to clear ice off of roads.

"There really aren't that many icy spots out there, but we can't get to them," said McKinnon.

McKinnon asked for patience and urged people to stay in their vehicles and not park on the shoulders of roads.

Crews will work all night to clear ice, McKinnon said.

7:35 P.M. WEATHER UPDATE: FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Ken Cook says snow should begin to taper soon in the metro Atlanta area. Roads continue to be clogged throughout the area.

7:30 P.M. UPDATE: From Sandy Springs Police Captain Steve Rose:

"A Sandy Springs Police traffic officer and the new father assisted in the delivery of a baby girl around 5:25 this evening. The delivery was done in the parent's car that was stranded on I-285 near Riverside Drive.  The delivery appears to have been without complications and EMS personnel arrived minutes later. The child and parents are being transported to the hospital."

Red Cross has opened a shelter at Hammond Drive (Hammond and Glenridge Drives) open to anyone who is stranded. Officers who come across stranded motorists are offering rides to the shelter, Rose said.

7:20 P.M. UPDATE: Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin said in an email,  "Per our traffic cameras placed throughout the city, we can positively confirm that ALL major thorough fares and some intersections throughout the city are still gridlocked with traffic.  We are still actively sanding the roads and providing motorists with assistance if they break down."  Stranded motorists inside the city limits that are seeking assistance with shelter can call the Marietta Police Department at 770-794-5334.

7:10 P.M. UPDATE: There are reports of ice on the Georgia 400 SB ramps to the North Springs MARTA station. MARTA buses are unable to get to the station, so the ramps have been blocked, FOX 5's Katie Beasley reports.

The Interstate 85 southbound ramp to Highway 138 has also been shut down due to a crash and icy conditions.

6:50 P.M. UPDATE: FOX 5's Jaclyn Schultz reports that drivers stuck in Marietta are being taken to following shelters:

Marietta High School
Fire station 51, 53
Roswell Street Baptist Church

Driver stuck on the road and needing pickup can call 770-794-5334.

6:45 P.M. UPDATE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued this statement regarding his declaration of a state of emergency:

After consultation with GEMA Director Charley English and other state agency heads, Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a state of emergency declaration related to the winter storm for the entire state of Georgia. The governor has delayed the opening of state government until noon tomorrow.

"Many parts of our state have experienced heavy sleet and snowfall, and in the metro areas we're experiencing traffic jams caused primarily by heavy volume after the quick onset of the winter storm," Deal said. "Unfortunately, traffic is delaying the ability of crews to treat highways all across the state. I know many people are trying desperately to pick up their children or simply to get home, and I hope they can get to safe, warm stopping point soon. Once at your destination, if at all possible, please stay off the roads until conditions improve. State DOT crews will work around the clock to get roads clear; in addition, the National Guard, the Department of Public Safety and GEMA will work to get the state back to normal as quickly as possible."

The state of emergency declaration opens up state resources necessary for government response. It also activates the State Emergency Operations Plan, which assigns specific responsibilities to certain agencies.

6:35 P.M. The Georgia Department of Transportation has issued an update on roads. Click here for a list of roads currently impacted by the weather.

6 P.M. UPDATE: Traffic remains at a standstill in much of the metro Atlanta area. Several southbound lanes of I-75 remain closed after an accident involving 10 vehicles. One lane is open, but vehicles continue to move at a crawl, according to FOX 5's Denise Dillon.

5:25 P.M. UPDATE: Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in Georgia after inches of snow fell across the state on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that Deal's spokesman, Brian Robinson, said Tuesday that the declaration covers all 159 counties in the state and will help free up resources that are needed to address emergency situations as they arise. Robinson says state government offices will remain closed until noon Wednesday, according to the AP.

The snow has created traffic issues, school closures and assorted issues across the state.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains open, but numerous delays and cancellations have been reported, according to FOX 5's Morse Diggs. Click here for flight information.

FOX 5 has received numerous calls from frustrated parents whose children were stuck at school.

There were several reports of stranded buses in Gordon County. There were no reports of any serious injuries.

Numerous parents reported their children were still at school at 5:30 p.m. due to buses broken down or stuck in traffic.

Cherokee County Schools said they're providing shelter for students left without transportation, while Fulton County school officials are urging parents to have patience.

Click here for an updated list of weather-related closings.

5:15 P.M. UPDATE: The snow that has blanketed the area is beginning to taper off, according to FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Ken Cook. The danger is that water will freeze on the roadways, creating hazardous conditions. 

Officials in many north and middle Georgia counties are asking motorists to stay off of roadways. GDOT cameras show many stranded and disabled vehicles.

Click here to view PHOTOS from around the area.

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for parts of north Georgia and all of central Georgia. The warning is in effect until 7 a.m. Wednesday for portions of the Atlanta metro area, along Interstate 20 west of Atlanta and Interstate 85 east of Atlanta. It includes the cities of Atlanta, Marietta, Lawrenceville, Carrollton, Douglasville, East Point and Decatur. The National Weather Service predicts one to two inches of snow in that area.

Click here for a list of current watches/warnings in effect.

Mobile users: Click here to view the latest radar and snow total information.

ORIGINAL POST:

Dozens of schools and daycares across north Georgia closed early on Tuesday and have announced closures for Wednesday. Click here for an updated list of weather-related closings.

The snow began earlier in Alabama, where Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency. The Alabama National Guard is on standby. Alabama's Emergency Management Director says widespread power outages are possible.

In Georgia, snow showers covered much of the state. The flurries are expected to continue throughout the evening. Temperatures will drop to the teens in much of the metro area. The frigid temperatures could create dangerous conditions on roadways as some of the water freezes.

On Wednesday, some areas will see temperatures rising above freezing.

From the Georgia Department of Transportation:

"Dangerous icing conditions are forming on highways in west central Georgia as expected winter weather is entering the state. Moisture arriving from the southwest is meeting frigid temperatures from the northwest to create sleet and freezing rain in areas around Troup and Harris counties while occasional light snowfall is reported in portions of Metro Atlanta and in northwest Georgia. The two fronts are expected to continue to merge over the state today, tonight and early Wednesday.

Georgia DOT crews are treating icing conditions on Interstate Highways 85 and 185 in Troup and Harris as well as State Route 109 in Troup. In northwest Georgia, light accumulations of snow and possible ice are being treated on Interstate Highway 75 in Bartow and Dade counties as well as Interstate Highway 59 in Dade and I-575 in Cherokee County. Also, State Routes 136, 58, 299 and 301 in Dade, State Route 3 in Bartow and State Route 157 in Walker County report some snow accumulations, all of which are being treated.

As conditions continue to deteriorate, impacts on roads will spread across the state. The Department advises the public to refrain from all but absolutely necessary travel until midday Wednesday at the earliest. If motorists must travel, please be extremely cautious. Slow down considerably; allow extra distance between yourself and other vehicles, maintain a steady speed; avoid lane changing and sudden acceleration or braking; and never pass a Georgia DOT, contractor or local government truck treating the road. Also, avoid any driving after dark as black ice will form on streets, roads and highways and is virtually impossible to detect in the dark."

Crews are working throughout West Central Georgia. These following locations are hazardous, icing has been reported and crews are working in these areas:

• Henry - I-75, SR 20, SR 3

• Spalding - SR 92 near Vaughn Road

• Troup - SR 1 N/S, SR 22 near Yellow Jacket Road, SR 219 N/S near Davis Street

Click here to watch FOX 5 LIVE on your PC or mobile device.

For the latest forecast visit myfoxatlanta.com/weather.

Related links |

Preparations underway for possible snow in Georgia

Winter weather threat poses problems for schools

Don't forget to download the FREE FOX 5 Storm Team app!  It's available for iPhone, iPad and Android.  Click here for more details.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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