South cleans up after storm that killed 15

Associated Press


Southerners shoveled, scraped and plowed their way Thursday out of a snowy deep freeze that caused a standstill across much of a region accustomed to mild winters.

At least 15 people died, including a 6-year-old boy who sledded onto a roadway in Virginia.

Authorities across the South urged drivers to stay off treacherous roads. Louisiana highways remained closed much of the day and New Orleans residents were avoiding showers to restore pressure to a system plagued by frozen pipes. Atlanta was slowly returning to normal after being frozen in its tracks by about an inch of snow.

All this raises a familiar question: Why do severe winters seem to catch southerners unprepared? Experts on disaster planning say it’s tough to justify maintaining fleets of snow plows when the weather’s only occasionally nasty.

“People are putting their money, their resources and their planning time where it’s most necessary, and that has to do with an understanding of what the risks are in any place,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

State transportation officials had 2,200 trucks out plowing and salting a day after the storm hit. Despite this, troopers responded to more than 2,700 crashes and police reported hundreds more as North Carolina’s five most populous cities all saw significant snow.

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