Revisiting the 2014 Winter Ice Storm 'Snow Jam' in Atlanta, Georgia

Winter is here! Along with plunging temperatures, many portions of the country have already gotten their first taste of winter-weather. Being prepared is important, especially during these cold winter months.

Back on January 28, 2014, snow and ice wreaked havoc on Atlanta, Georgia, and immobilized much of the surrounding areas. Due to uncertainty with the forecast, many were unprepared. After severe cold and ice hit the region, motorists, children, and thousands of others were stranded on the roadways overnight.

The fast-accumulating snow and ice mixture brought traffic to a standstill, and salt and sand trucks were unable to coat the roadways. According to CBS News, thousands were unable to make it home Tuesday night and, “In Fulton County, 99 school buses filled with kids were still on the road at midnight. At least 2,000 other students spent the night at school.” The storm was also responsible for more than 1,200 traffic accidents throughout the state of Georgia.

The Importance of Emergency Preparedness in a Child Care Setting

The Institute for Childhood Preparedness had the opportunity to speak with Janna Rookis, a consultant for Kids’ Galaxy in Gwinnett County, Georgia, with locations in Dacula and Lawrenceville. Janna and her husband Tim owned a childcare center for 20 years and have received 3 Georgia state accreditations.

One of the tenets of the Georgia State Accreditation process requires expanded procedures for emergencies. Janna reached out to local public school systems and asked how Kids’ Galaxy could be better prepared to handle emergencies and to train their staff. Janna helped the Dacula location achieve a quality rating from the State, and she is in the process of helping Lawrenceville achieve a quality rating, and they just received their 30-day approval.

Shelter In Place

The ice storm came on quickly, and people didn't act fast enough. Many parents were stuck on highways and icy roadways, and they were unable to reach Kids’ Galaxy. Luckily, with Janna’s prior training and accreditations, Kids’ Galaxy anticipated the storm, and the staff kept abreast of the weather, allowing them to shelter-in-place.

Janna used a checklist to make sure everything was ready for a shelter-in-place scenario, and she quickly communicated with parents via Facebook and the internet. No one was sure what was going to happen at that point, but she and her staff remained calm and assured parents that Kids’ Galaxy would stay open, and the children would be cared for, safe, and fed for as long as it took.

Janna said, “In 20 years, that was the first time we ever had to shelter-in-place, but I was prepared for that situation regardless.”

We Were Prepared for the Ice Storm

Although she didn’t know how bad the storm was going to be, Janna made sure there was enough food at the facility to feed the children and the staff. She also purchased battery-operated flashlights and gathered extra bedding and clothing in case the power went out. When the storm hit, Janna sprang into action. She dismissed staff that lived further away, and the staff that lived close by stayed to help with the children.