Maura Neill was stranded for eight hours in the gridlocked, apocalyptic aftermath of a modest snowstorm that crippled Atlanta this week. “It was like a scene from The Walking Dead,” she told USA Today, a reference to the comic-book-made-television-show-made-video-game set in northern Georgia, in which a zombie apocalypse overtakes, as far as we know, the world.
The sentiment was repeated all around the web. Business Insider ran a series of images under the headline, “26 Pictures From the Insane Traffic Jam That Has Atlanta Looking Like The Walking Dead.” Newsweek reported that the Walking Dead comparison “became a near-ubiquitous reaction to images of highways full of jackknifed tractor trailers and parked cars.” And it’s true. Just look at the two scenes side by side. In one, the abandoned cars of desperate living souls trying to escape the undead horde. In the other, those of ordinary working folk just trying to get home.
Even before the snow stopped falling, Atlanta citizens began sharpening their pitchforks in retaliation for the city’s ineffective planning for and response to the storm. Such blame games have become an obligatory stage in extreme weather mourning rituals. But as my fellow Atlantan Conor Sen argued here at The Atlantic in the wake of the storm, the real cause of the bedlam is complicated, a network of interwoven factors, from metro Atlanta’s balkanized politics to the ongoing effects of race relations on public infrastructure.