Mass Exodus Monday?

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Mass Exodus Monday?

Lisa-quinn Ndegwa, Reporter

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Tension, anxiety and excitement abounded among the inhabitants of Georgia as Super Bowl LIII at the Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday, February 3 drew closer. Armed with six interstate highways, Georgians cruise around Atlanta as they battle the normal rush hour traffic, but this changed in the days leading up to the game. The large amounts of people traveling across the world for the match meant a massive amount of traffic in and around the city.

The past few days left Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, already one of the busiest airports in the world, swamped after the government shutdown and re-opened a few days prior to the game . With less government workers clocking into work, airport personnel sent additional screeners from in and out of state, who concerned themselves with the people leaving Georgia more than the arrivals according to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

After the government shut down for over a month, Atlantans saw it wise to vandalize their parks and other public areas as no one would question them. This act of ignorance increased the need for maximum security enforcement in preparation for the Super Bowl, which posed as a danger for all who plan on attending the game and Atlanta residents. For instance, a sex trafficking security warning issued for women and children. A crime which tends to occur during such prestigious events. With about 169 people arrested ahead of the Sunday night game, authorities were concerned that criminals would take advantage of the throngs visiting Atlanta to accomplish their nefarious missions, and with an increase in crime rate made all of America’s security fields including ICE, remain on high alert which later turned to a controversial arrest of one of America’s/UK’s famous rapper 21 savage; whose nationality remains unclear and whose fate lies in the hands of ICE.

However, the Georgia department of homeland security as well as government officials promised that everything  would play out safe bringing in a calmness to everyone who planned on attending the game. With low flying helicopters and police patrolling both on foot and on horse back around downtown Atlanta, the streets seemed pretty safe for the big event.

“Drones as well as air space in the Mercedes Benz stadium will be restricted to preserve the security of the people,” Bottoms said.

The government encouraged people to carpool to the venue because it reduced the amount of vehicles on the roads hence less traffic in metro Atlanta areas. To further enhance security, the department of homeland security closed some of the roads around the Atlanta area and its suburbs which would increase traffic; but hey, better safe than sorry.

As for the air travellers, they were asked to prepare for long lines at the airports by  recommending an aggressive 5-4-3-2-1 plan for their departure on Monday February 4. Where they checked out of the hotels five hours before their flight, returned any rental cars or called in Uber or Lyft four hours prior to departure, checked in bags three hours before leaving, passed through security two hours before hand and arrived at their gate one hour before their flight, to save them any delays that might occur.

“Despite all the security hazards it posed, hosting the game tremendously improved our economy as a state, because due to the large amounts of people coming in, businesses thrived. Restaurants, hotels, transportation companies [such as uber and lyft] hiked their prices. It also encouraged a lot of tourism which might in turn increase the amount of people who move to Atlanta and/or the suburbs eventually,” NC football coach Michael Dillard said.   

With these kind of prices, airport personnel who worked 24 hour shifts attended to people who opted to spend the night at the airport awaiting their flights instead of paying for overnight lodgings and hotels for smoother checking in. Airport concession stands also remained open for the better part of the weekend.

Heavy hearts and happy souls continue to stroll through the airport as people hop on their planes back to their homes awaiting Super Bowl LIV next year in Florida.

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