It was a winter storm response described as an "epic failure" of government by one national news network.
A midday winter storm struck Atlanta's metro population of nearly 6 million on Tuesday. By early afternoon, hundreds of thousands of commuters had taken to the streets, all at once, in a desperate effort to get home. At the same time school systems dismissed an army of students, many on buses. Government got into the act too, telling workers to hit the road.
But by the time everyone started out, what began as flurries became several inches of snow on the highways and streets of a metropolitan area known for its myriad of highways and byways, as well as a general inability of its residents to drive in snow.
The result was pure panic and chaos. Large trucks started to slide and block most major roads. Many cars were disabled, or worse, involved in accidents that clogged emergency lanes. Tens of thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic, many for more than 10 hours.
Throughout the night, parents searched for children, many of whom who were forced to spend the evening at school. Desperate motorists found cell towers overloaded and cell phones dying.
While state, county and municipal governments all seemed helpless, public citizens took matters into their own hands. As government stumbled, one person on Facebook formed a site known as "SnowedOutAtlanta" where stranded citizens could post their desperate needs and others near them could offer to provide shelter, food or even come to their rescue. Within hours, tens of thousands had joined in the effort. It was an amazing testament to what big government can't do and what "we the people" can get done.
Ironically, this was all taking place as President Obama was threatening Congress, in his State of the Union Address, to use executive powers to get around them to expand government even more. While many Atlantans remained stuck in cars as the sun rose on Wednesday, Obama was off on a tour of other states touting his newest big government gimmicks.
Meanwhile, Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta's Democrat Mayor Kasim Reed were holding disastrous press conferences in which Reed was openly combative with reporters and Deal seemed mixed up on his meteorology and what the warnings actually were for the storm.