- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that South Carolina officials will meet to discuss what they learned from last week’s snow and ice storm and what could be done differently, but she also said she’s proud of the state’s response.

Haley’s Democratic opponent, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, has criticized her for not going to Charleston as the Ravenel Bridge iced up. The bridge linking the peninsular city with Mount Pleasant closed for more than 40 hours, then closed again after sheets of ice fell from the bridge’s diamond-shaped columns onto vehicles.

Haley dismissed Sheheen’s jab, saying officials learned salt doesn’t work on that bridge, which opened in summer 2005.

“That was the first time the Ravenel Bridge had frozen since it’s been there,” Haley said. “We did what we needed to do to keep people safe. We made sure the bridge was closed when we knew it wasn’t right to get on there.”

She said officials will discuss in a conference call Friday how to improve their response for next time, as per protocol, but said, “I could not be more proud” at how agencies handled the storm.

She also said her reported comment on Georgia’s handling of the storm was never meant to be a slight to fellow Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who also faces re-election this year.

Haley has been criticized after reportedly telling a group in Charleston earlier this week she was furious at Georgia for not taking care of the situation. But she said Thursday her anger was sisterly concern not directed at the state. She said her brother was stuck on an interstate in Atlanta for 27 hours, and eventually walked to a hotel that let him camp in its lobby.

“This was not me being furious at Georgia. This was me being furious as a sister not being able to get to my brother,” she said. “He’s a diabetic. We were worried about him not getting food and not getting water. … It was never meant to be a slight to Georgia or Gov. Deal.”

A spokesman for Deal said Haley apologized to his boss.

“She apologized that it came out that way. He accepted that apology,” Brian Robinson said. “They have a great working relationship and they’ll continue to work together.”

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