COLUMBIA, SC — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley now says that she is not “furious” about how Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal handled the winter storm that left her brother stuck on an Atlanta interstate for 27 hours last week.
“This was not me being furious at Georgia,” Haley told reporters Thursday. “This was me being furious as a sister, not being able to get to her brother. I don’t want this to be a state-to-state issue. Gov. Deal did what he thought was best.”
Haley called fellow Republican Deal on Thursday and apologized, said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the Georgia governor. Deal accepted her apology.
“They’re good friends, and good friends don’t hold grudges,” Robinson said.
The sudden winter political storm started when Haley told a reporter Tuesday that: “While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that.”
The comment took off on political websites and among Democrats because one Republican state chief executive was criticizing another.
Robinson answered the initial report of Haley’s fury by telling an Atlanta newspaper Wednesday: “To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina.”
Asked about Robinson’s response, Haley stressed Thursday that she meant no malice toward Georgia.
“It was never meant to be a slight to Georgia or Gov. Deal,” she said. “I would not do that because every governor goes through their own challenges.”
Haley said Thursday that her brother, Mitti, was caught in the storm after flying into the Atlanta airport. He joined thousands of motorists caught on icy, congested interstates around the city.
Haley said her brother is diabetic, and she was worried about him not getting food and water. “I stayed on the phone with him as we were managing South Carolina at the same time,” she said.
Her brother eventually was able to walk to a hotel and camp out in the lobby, the governor said.
South Carolina experienced few problems in last week’s snow storm. However, the Ravenel Bridge, a major Charleston-Mount Pleasant connector, was closed for nearly two days after icing over. Rain washed away brine meant to keep ice from forming on the bridge’s unique road surface, transportation officials told The State last week.
Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, a Democrat running against Haley, said the governor should have gone to Charleston during the storm.
The storm was the first time the 9-year-old Ravenel Bridge had frozen with ice, Haley said. Haley said she will hold a conference call with S.C. emergency officials Friday to go over how the state handled the winter blast.