Officials: Assessment of Gwinnett response to winter storm will ‘take a little time’

Lukas Jackson, 8, tries to catch some snow in his mouth while outside playing. (Photo: Andrea Jackson)
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Many schools throughout the north Georgia region remained closed on Thursday too, with Gwinnett government offices delaying openings until 10 a.m. and cancelling court trials, hearings and Transit Express bus service. GCPS will open two hours late on Friday.

While many used Wednesday as a mid-week rest day, Gwinnett law enforcement and fire personnel, as well as Georgia Department of Transportation and county roads crews, remained busy throughout the storm and into the following days.

From 12:01 a.m. Wednesday through noon on Thursday, Gwinnett police responded to 1,140 traffic related calls — from reports of accidents to cars stuck in the ice and snow.

In the same time period, the Gwinnett Fire Department reported it also responded to numerous vehicle accidents, with one instance in which a medical unit was stranded down a hill due to icy conditions in a Norcross apartment complex.

None of the accidents resulted in serious injuries, though officials continued to urge drivers throughout the day on Thursday to remain cautious on the roads.

“We are urging folks to give it more time for the sun to help us out, but if you must be on the roads, please use extreme caution entering and exiting ramps,” DOT officials said. “Icy patches are out there and we need you to slow down and drive with caution even though sun is up.”

Several major thoroughfares, such as Georgia Highway 316, remained snowy and icy into Thursday afternoon, with dipping evening temperatures making the roads once again treacherous for motorists.

A National Weather Service severe weather alert issued Thursday morning warning residents about refreezing roads remains in effect until 10 a.m. Friday.

In addition to snow and ice, frigid temperatures and sharp winds pummeled the region, prompting Gwinnett officials to open a warming shelter on Tuesday.

The shelter, which offered temporary refuge from extreme cold at Norcross’ Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, helped make the storm largely manageable for residents, though frigid temperatures may be to blame for a fire that damaged a Lawrenceville home Wednesday evening, fire officials said.

A preliminary investigation indicated the blaze, which displaced the home’s occupants, was sparked by a fire burning in the fireplace. The residents told officials they had built a fire to keep warm and that this was reportedly the first time they had used the fireplace.

While initial feedback of county storm response was largely positive, a complete assessment may take several weeks, officials said.

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