"I accept responsibility for the fact that we did not make preparation early enough to avoid these consequences," Deal said Thursday. "I'm not looking for a scapegoat. I'm the governor. The buck stops with me."
If a similar situation arises, Deal said, he would declare a state of emergency earlier on, even if it ends up being a false alarm, CNN reported.
Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, also apologized for not gearing up emergency operations earlier than he did.
"I got this one wrong," English said. "I made the decision not to do anything until later that morning."
Warmer temperatures Thursday moved into Atlanta as drivers collected vehicles stranded on highways and streets.
Georgia state officials Thursday ferried 153 people to their vehicles abandoned when icy conditions turned interstates across the south into skating rinks and campgrounds -- and provided five gallons of free gasoline, CNN reported.
"They had two tankers of gasoline," Emergency Management spokeswoman Lisa Janak said. "Each held 3,000 gallons."
The 181 drivers who didn't take advantage of the state's largess, however, must search for their vehicles in more than a dozen impound lots and face the potential of paying fees to retrieve their vehicles, CNN said.
Drivers whose vehicles were tagged and towed by the Atlanta Police Department, have some good news. The police department said in a release it would waive impound fees to residents whose vehicles were towed because of the storm.
AccuWeather.com said a series of winter storms will stretch from Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma to major hubs in the Midwest and southeastern Canada into Saturday. Colder air was expected to follow, but not to the extreme experienced during parts of January.
Forecasters said a push of cold air across the nation's midsection colliding with a storm moving up from the Southwest could trigger moderate to heavy snow along much of Interstate-70 over the Rockies and Plains and along Interstate-80 in the Midwest.
Metropolitan areas from Denver to Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City could see plowable amounts of snow, AccuWeather.com said.