The rush was on as millions in the Deep South began preparations Thursday for Helena, a dangerous, deadly winter storm that could cause serious problems across the region over the weekend.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced Thursday afternoon that a state of emergency will take effect Friday morning at 7 a.m. CST. The declaration affects all counties in the state, and among the impacts of the state of emergency is the activation of 300 soldiers from the Alabama National Guard to assist mission support teams and command staff.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal also declared a state of emergency, which was set to begin at noon on Friday.
On Thursday, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency warned North Georgia residents to prepare for the winter storm and urged people to have enough food and other supplies on hand to stay in their homes for three days. Several school districts in metro Atlanta will dismiss students early on Friday.
The Georgia Department of Transportation began working days ahead of the storm to make sure they are ready when wintry weather moves into central and north Georgia, including metro Atlanta, Friday night into Saturday, reports WALB.com.
“In the metro area, we have 10 5,000-gallon tanker trucks to treat the interstate,” GDOT Maintenance Engineer Dale Bradley said.
Pre-treating roads with brine is a new tactic for GDOT since Winter Storm Leon crippled the city and left drivers stranded on area roads in January 2014.
“We are trying to pre-treat before the storm, but at the same time close enough to the storm that if it does come in as heavy rain, we don’t get a lot of it washed off,” Bradley said.
Into the Carolinas, residents began to stock up on food and other supplies with even bigger snow totals in the forecast.