‘We’re not kidding.’ Deal urges drivers to stay off roads as round 2 approaches

Gov. Nathan Deal warned drivers not to be lulled into complacency by the rain and snow that blanketed parts of Georgia on Tuesday, warning that a second blast of wintry weather would be far more severe.

“This is one of Mother Nature’s worst kinds of storms,” said Deal, who added: “We’re not kidding. We’re not crying wolf.”

Deal has declared a state of emergency for 89 counties covering much of the northern half of the state. He’s also asked the White House to extend a federal disaster declaration to cover Middle Georgia.

The National Weather Service is warning of a wave of “crippling ice” and dire conditions that could topple power lines and turn roads into icy messes. Georgia Power’s chief emergency executive, Aaron Strickland, warned that a “huge event” could knock out power for hundreds of thousands of residents.

“Right now I would be prepared for days,” said Strickland. “This has the opportunity to be a huge event when you’re talking about the kind of ice we’re looking at.”

The state is preparing dozens of emergency shelters for those stranded on the roads or without long-term power. Seven state parks will be turned into makeshift shelters, and the Georgia National Guard is making armories available as well.

Deal has been eager to show a more proactive response after he and other state leaders were panned for their reaction to the Jan. 28 snowfall that gridlocked metro Atlanta.

“We think we are in much better shape this time, this storm, to be able to deal with the adversities,” Deal said earlier. “But it is alarming when you hear the National Weather Service using terms like ‘historic.’”

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