Athens Banner-Herald, David Tulis) MANDATORY CREDIT MAGS OUT NO SALES TV OUT, Associated Press
ATLANTA — A winter storm left many parts of Georgia crippled for a second day Tuesday, stranding Greyhound bus passengers in Atlanta without food and closing down government offices and school districts as roads remained coated in snow and ice.
The Georgia Department of Transportation brought in crews from central Georgia to help with treacherous conditions on interstates in Atlanta, shutting down large portions of I-285 throughout the day to spread salt, gravel and deicer in hopes of making the road passable. Cities looked like ghost towns as stores and restaurants remained closed and residents hunkered down at home.
Gov. Nathan Deal urged drivers to stay off the road.
"I want to reiterate, if you do not need to be on the roads please, do not go out and attempt to drive, he said. "The road conditions are not going to cleared up immediately."
Trucker Vernon Cook, 67, had been sitting still on the ramp from Interstate 285 to I-75 south just south of Atlanta for almost 24 hours Tuesday in a long line of tractor trailers that couldn't move because of the icy road.
"I've been a trucker for 46 years and have seen nothing like this," said Cook, who was headed with a load of synthetic rubber from Beaumont, Texas, to Fayetteville, N.C. "Georgia DOT is not working, not on this road."
DOT crews got the trucks moved out Tuesday afternoon.
DOT workers were hampered by frigid temperatures that caused thawed roadways to refreeze, as well as traffic backed up from tractor trailers stuck on many interstates, said spokeswoman Jill Goldberg. She said crews were doing all they could to clear ice from roadways but they couldn't reach many problem spots because of traffic.
"Our trucks and crews are out there treating every single thing they can get to," Goldberg said.
All interstates in metro Atlanta were clear by 5 p.m. Tuesday but forecasters warned they would refreeze overnight as temperatures were expected to dip into the teens.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city was bringing in nearly 60 pieces of snow equipment to help clear roads. He said the city was ready for a snowstorm like it's had in the past, but this wintry blast took the city by surprise.
"This has required patience," he said in a Tuesday news conference. "But everybody here has been at it."
The Atlanta jail and several local charities delivered food, blankets and bottled water Tuesday to more than 300 passengers stuck at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Atlanta. Many had been stranded there since early Monday, but Reed said the city and Greyhound are providing meals and hotel rooms for the passengers starting Tuesday.
Some travelers tried to get some sleep in chairs or on the floor during the day Tuesday.
Greg Walton, 32, of Orlando, Fla., said his bus started losing traction and the battery eventually died when it neared Atlanta. He'd been stuck at the station since being ferried there on another bus Monday.
"They bring us here, then they just declared martial law on us," he said, jokingly.
Greyhound spokeswoman Maureen Richmond said all bus service in Atlanta was canceled Monday and Tuesday. She said the company was providing warm buses where passengers could rest and contacting charities to bring in food.
But forecasters say the roads likely won't improve much until the end of the week. Temperatures are expected to remain around freezing during the day Wednesday with a little warming on Thursday, which means ice and snow will melt very slowly, said Jason Deese with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City
"It's not going to be anything that's quick by any means," Deese said.
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