Nightly News   |  January 30, 2014

Georgia Gov. on Weather Debacle: ‘The Buck Stops With Me’

City and state officials had plenty of warning that a big storm was on the way, and on Thursday, both the governor and emergency management director took responsibility for the fallout.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is true southern cities cannot be expected to be as good at snow clearing as cities like new york, chicago and boston, it took exactly 2.6 inches of snow to paralyze the nation's ninth largest city. the problem was not limited to atlanta , but it is a big urban area , the largest in the south, where everybody took to the roads at the same time, right at the time when the roads turned to ice. public officials got defensive in the immediate aftermath of the storm, some blaming the weather forecasters , all evidence to the contrary. the governor chose to fall on his snow shovel and apologized to everyone on how the snow was handled or better yet, mishandled. and tonight, we're learning now how it was able to get so bad so quickly.

>> reporter: hi, brian, the city is returning to normal, many failing to heed the warning, today, we learned the governor director of emergency services for the state were sleeping as the forecasts were even more dire.

>> this basically looks like a used car parking lot . 40 hours after getting slammed with the major snowstorm, these are the images that others were trying to explain, tens of thousands stuck in their cars for hour, kids stuck overnight in school. 2,000 abandoned cars.

>> anybody with an iphone knew that a weather app would tell you that it was going to snow.

>> reporter: today, the governor dropped his original defiance.

>> i'm the governor, the buck stops with me.

>> reporter: yesterday, governor deal said the weather forecast was inaccurate, but they had plenty of warnings, sunday afternoon, two inches of snow, monday, 9:36 p.m ., the national weather service issued their first travel advisory , advising to travel only in an emergency to south metro counties. then at 3:30 a.m . tuesday, the strongest warning yet, revised to pinpoint metro atlanta .

>> i made a terrible error in judgment.

>> reporter: today, the state's emergency management director admitted he failed to take action or notify the governor in a timely manner, by noon, snow was falling, schools and businesses let out early, but it was too late.

>> why did they not mobilize the national guard sooner. why were they not prepared for this?

>> reporter: soon, the roads around the big city were impassable.

>> a warning was issued by the national weather service at 3:30 a.m ., that should have been enough for the governor and mayor to say we're calling off the day, it is too dangerous for getting people out.

>> reporter: today, the governor conceded that they failed to give warnings in time.

>> we does not -- did not have adequate time to issue the warning warnings.

>> on the streets today, the national guard was helping drivers find the cars they had walked away from. there are abandoned cars all over this region, this is i-75, right through the heart of atlanta . mile after mile of this highway, littered with abandoned cars. we caught up with this family, searching for the car their daughter abandoned on the highway.

>> it would be here about ten hours, the whole thing.

>> reporter: two days later, atlanta is still recovering. lot of criticism and concern that these roads may not have been pre-treated before the storm. in fact, many roads were pre-treated but it may have happened really too close to the actual storm time, meaning it was too little, too late. brian?