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TomorrowWorld Investigations Underway After Weather, Transport Issues Strand Thousands

Cassandra Foley
Attendees sleeping in the mud at TomorrowWorld after being stranded without transportation on Sept. 27, 2015 in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.

'Heartbroken' festival says it was let down by 'external factors,' announces refund policy after closing Sunday to non-campers.

UPDATE: In a statement posted to the city's website, Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Tom Reed has promised a full investigation of the transportation and safety issues at TomorrowWorld.

“While the rain (compounded by serious promoter communication issues and transportation vendor failures) has obviously caused a mess, with serious parking and access issues, our Public Safety teams and their partners have been working tirelessly to maintain safety,” he says. “A dissection of what went wrong, and a process to ensure it does not happen again, will follow.”

According to WSB-TV, local police are also investigating a possible sexual assault at the festival.

On Tuesday (Sept.29), TomorrowWorld issued the following statement on Facebook:

We understand and hear your frustrations and disappointments in the developments at TomorrowWorld over the last weekend.

Our only goal was to create together with you the best weekend of the year, and we are heartbroken that we were not able to provide some of our precious fans with the full TomorrowWorld experience, which includes the complete journey to and from the festival.

The combination of your positive energy and our hard work did not shine through and we completely understand your dissatisfaction. TomorrowWorld was also let down by a number of external factors which did not allow us to provide you with the full experience you deserve. We realize we can’t turn back time and make it perfect, but for those who wish to, we are here to communicate directly and listen to all your personal stories, frustrations and questions.

welisten@tomorrowworld.com

You are the true People of Tomorrow and deserve all the respect in the world. As a part of this, the refund policy is active here.

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TomorrowWorld limited festival access on Sunday (Sept. 27) to those camping on-site after rain and transportation issues stranded thousands of attendees without shelter, food and water Saturday night.

Many attendees were forced to walk miles through cold rain and dark woods to obtain transportation from the grounds, located 30 miles from Atlanta, after shuttles were canceled amid muddy conditions. Photographs posted to social media show some attendees sleeping on cars, mud and wet grass by the roadside. 

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A festival spokesperson released the following statements:

"Today, Sunday September 27, TomorrowWorld will be accessible only to visitors currently camping onsite at DreamVille. We take the safety of all of our visitors very seriously. The rainfall since Thursday resulted in limited capacity of festival parking fields, drop-off locations, and the shuttle system. Festivalgoers with day tickets, guest list tickets, and anyone not already camping at DreamVille will unfortunately not be able to access today’s events. Food and entertainment will be provided for the visitors already situated in DreamVille. The refund policy for affected visitors will be announced as soon as possible."

"Following the decision to limit access to festival grounds due to safety and logistical concerns stemming from inclement weather, TomorrowWorld this evening issued refund information to attendees through their official website, social media channels, and via direct email to ticket holders."

The Chattahoochee Hills mayor's office, police department and festival representatives have not yet returned requests for further comment. The SFX-owned, ID&T-produced festival was expected to draw 190,000 attendees to Chattahoochee Hills, Ga. over three days.

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Cassandra Foley, 23, says she and her friends tried to leave the grounds around 10 p.m. and were told that shuttles couldn't pick them up due to heavy mud. Foley says she was forced to walk miles to an area where Ubers and cabs were charging exorbitant cash fees to return to Atlanta, which was problematic as TomorrowWorld is a cashless festival.

"We asked security what we should do and they had no idea what to tell us," Foley says. "It was a complete mess. Thousands of people were stuck and sleeping on the roadside. People had no idea where to go. You got to think... this is now the third day of a festival, I don't know what other people are on, I know they're at least drunk and now they're trying to figure out where to go, with no idea and phones are dead... It was terrible."

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Rob Myers, 33, says it took him four hours to get home after leaving the festival at midnight. Myers says he managed to get one of the last shuttles to the Uber lot, where he describes a chaotic scene in which the number of ride-seekers far outstripped the rides available.

"It was a shitshow," Myers says. "I've been to a lot of festivals in my life and I've never seen that kind of anger and anxiety people were having towards other people. We passed thousands of people walking. I saw three or four people almost get hit by cars. There was no police presence. The public safety issue at hand there was serious. There was a complete breakdown in communication, no guidance and you could tell whoever was managing it had no contingency plan in place to get people out of there." 

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Myers, who works in logistics and project management, faults the festival organizers for not adequately preparing for inclement weather.

"The logistics on the entrance and exit are where they really failed," Myers says. "I don't see how they're going to be able to do this again next year if they can't handle a little weather. It wasn't like torrential rain the last few days, it was just good, steady rain. God forbid if they'd had flash flooding out there... people would have died probably."

Other stranded attendees took to social media to vent their frustrations and describe their experiences. See below.