Did Raleigh learn from 2005 snowstorm that paralyzed the city?

It was nine years ago this month when a half-inch of snow paralyzed the capital city.
February 6, 2014 3:53:42 PM PST
It was nine years ago this month when a half-inch of snow paralyzed the capital city. A similar situation played out in Atlanta just a few weeks ago. There was intense gridlock on the highways there because of icy roads.

If you lived here in 2005, you remember the problem. The snow fell on already frozen roads, and all of it stuck.

It was just after noon, businesses and schools let out at the same time, which made for a nightmare on the road. Scores of drivers, and 3,000 Wake County students were left stranded.

In the weeks that followed, the city, county and school district promised changes so it would never happen again.

"We will produce a report. It'll be a written report that will come to all the council one day this week," said former City Manager Russell Allen, at the time.

The report was five pages long and focusing on key parts of the city's storm response. The city council called for better communication and collaboration between agencies, the city, and the schools.

"In 2005, before the storm, it wasn't happening," said former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "The school system was making decisions independently of what others were doing, and that's what was meant to change."

That was nine years ago, and when we asked around about the report Thursday only a handful of people knew it even existed -- not maintenance folks in Raleigh, not the city's director of public works, not even the school district.

A spokesperson for Wake Schools, texted ABC11, "A host of leadership changes since that time. I am unable to get my hands on anyone who can speak with certainty."

Given what happened in Atlanta last month, where they had basically the same storm and same experience as Raleigh back in 2005, Meeker says it's time to rewrite the plan, and refresh our memories.

"Anytime you have a change in leadership, as we've had in the city, county, and school system and you have time passes, there can be a loss of institutional memory," said Meeker. "So I think current leadership needs to pay attention to this, in particular with the situation in Atlanta, to review what we have in place here and make sure it's followed."

Meeker points out that two big things did come out of the 2005 storm. The city started putting down brine before storms. The salt-water mix keeps snow from sticking early on. It also woke people up to just how dangerous winter storms can be. The hard part, he says, is getting people to remember.

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