Mayor Kasim Reed at this morning's press conference.
Mayor Kasim Reed at this morning’s press conference.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed defended the city’s response to yesterday’s snowstorm and was combative with reporters during a press conference this morning. “This notion that we [the city] didn’t respond isn’t true,” Reed said.

Reed said cars and trucks still trapped on the interstates were not the responsibility of the city, but the state. “The interstates are the state’s jurisdiction, but we are working with the state, department of transportation and National Guard to clear them.”

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said his department is coordinating with Atlanta Public Schools to get students stranded at schools home. “North Atlanta High School and E. Rivers Elementary are our first priority,” Turner said. “We have more than 400 kids who spent the night at North Atlanta and more than 100 at E. Rivers, but we are starting to get students onto buses and get them home.”

Reed urged parents to stay at home and hold off picking up kids until roads could receive additional treatment.  He said all school children were safe and extra security was in place at the schools where students were sheltering in place.

Turner said Downtown Atlanta is functioning and personnel are working in 12 hour shifts, with the Atlanta Civic Center being used as a dorm space for officers to take breaks and rest. A massive egg and poultry convention is happening at the World Congress Center and Turner said his officers were making sure the event could continue and conventioneers were safe.

Reed said the gridlock caused by the storm was a learning experience and said he shared blame for the gridlock. “The error was in letting everyone try and go home at once,” Reed said. “If I’d had my druthers, we would have let schools dismiss first, then private sector businesses and government last.”

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.