Atlanta snow: 'The governor trusts his team'

Gov. Nathan Deal. AJC file.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal. AJC file.

Gov. Nathan Deal treated Friday's snow differently than previous wintry weather: There were no executive orders declaring preemptive states of emergency and no public statements or press conferences professing a better-safe-than-sorry attitude that have prefaced other recent storms.

Ahead of Friday's wintry weather, Deal said Thursday he had confidence in the state's ability to handle the weather without mandating that state offices be shuttered or signing an emergency declaration. The state, he added, was in "great shape" and that past emergencies have better better prepared Georgia officials.

"We've had our share of emergencies," he said Thursday. "We have learned from those circumstances. I know we have beefed up our training.  We've beefed up our personnel in terms of number of people, the amount of equipment that is now available, and the preparation in terms of deicing."

Early Friday, Deal's top aide Chris Riley sent state agency heads a memo that the "state feels solid about the preparation and planning to prepare" for the snowfall. In that note, Riley told department heads they had flexibility to allow staffers to work from home or leave early if they wanted.

As the snow started to fall, and roads filled with drivers, Deal maintained a low public profile, relying instead on tweets to relay that he's given state department heads authority to determine which offices to close and whether to release employees early. He scheduled no public appearances to discuss the state's response.

Riley sent administration officials another email early Friday afternoon noting the steady falling snow.

"I trust each of you have taken the initiative to allow offices to close and employees to leave accordingly where the weather had more of an impact this afternoon," he wrote. "On behalf of the governor, thank you!"

Asked Friday about the state's response, Riley said the governor was confident that state emergency officials "took the necessary steps leading up to the storm."

"As with any winter weather, we have to rely on the forecast and the state agencies who are responsible for the safety of Georgians," he said. "The governor trusts his team."

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