TODAY   |  January 30, 2014

Atlanta residents struggle to recover from storm

Below-freezing temperatures usher in another day of potential travel problems across the South. Atlanta officials face scrutiny for the handling of the storm as residents struggle to recover. Thousands of abandoned cars litter area highways and schools remain closed. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> temperatures ushering another day of below freezing temperatures. tom costello is in atlanta . tom, good morning to you.

>> reporter: hi, matt, good morning. 14 degrees here. i just drove in from the airport here into downtown. we have black ice all the way, really a sheet of ice, thousands of abandoned cars. really because all of this ice and 1 to 3 inches of snow brought atlanta to a screeching halt. gridlock in atlanta . thousands of people stranded in their cars for hours.

>> i was in the car for 20 hours.

>> 18, almost 20 hours.

>> now the aftermath.

>> i'm not going to get into that blame game.

>> why did things get so bad here?

>> the error and we have shared responsibility for the error was everybody letting out at once, which caused a massive traffic jam .

>> the national weather service had continually had their modelling showing that the city of atlanta would not be the primary area where the storm would hit.

>> reporter: it was tuesday when crews began treating the roads around atlanta but by afternoon rush hour, the city was paralyzed.

>> it's been pretty, pretty rough. total nightmare.

>> by wednesday morning, the national guard was mobilized to help.

>> the greatest need has been water and making sure they're fed and keeping warm.

>> 11,000 kids had to spend tuesday night from mom and dad .

>> i was waiting for her and they got on the bus at 6:00 last night and we're just getting there to get them.

>> with abandoned cars and trucks across the highway, home depot stayed open.

>> i slept in the hall mark card aisle by some birthday cards unfortunately.

>> reporter: some slept on the floor of other stores. and a baby girl born on the side of the highway.

>> reporter: in all, less there and 3 inches of snow brought the city to a standstill and the recovery is still under way.

>> we still have a civil emergency in place here, which means they want people to stay off the roads at least until noon. they're hoping today with the temperatures getting up above freezing, it will help to melt. it is still treacherous on the roads this morning. back to you.