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Durbin says D.C. residents act as if snowstorm is a 'nuclear attack'

As much of the region remained buried after historic snowstorms, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday that Washington residents view snow as "a mortal enemy" and go into a "full-scale panic at the thought of a snowfall," according to a report in The Hill.

"I first came here as a student in 1963 ... I lived a big part of my life, at least part-time, in Washington, D.C. I never could get over how people in this town reacted to snow," Durbin said on the Senate floor.

"I am convinced that infants born in Washington, D.C., are taken from the arms of their loving mothers right when they are born into a room where someone shows a film of a snowstorm with shrieking and screaming so that those children come to believe snow is a mortal enemy, like a nuclear attack, because I have seen, for over 40 years here, people in this town go into a full-scale panic at the thought of a snowfall," Durbin said, according to the report.

As he spoke, the Washington area remained virtually shut down after back-to-back storms that made this winter the region's snowiest on record. Federal government offices were closed for a fourth day; power outages were widespread; public transportation was crippled.

"We joke about it," Durbin said. "Those of us from parts of the country that get snow and know how to live with it cannot get over how crazy the reaction is many times.

"But in fairness, this has been a heck of a snowstorm ... You had every right to be concerned. Some of the other [storms], maybe not, but this one was the real deal."

The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has posted a poll asking readers whether Durbin's remarks were appropriate. At this hour, it's about an even split.

By A Post editor  |  February 12, 2010; 11:40 PM ET
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It was amazing to notice that two snow storms crippled and disrupted working of important government institutions for almost eight days . I am sure this year's snow will serve the city well for for the future snow storms and blizzards. A generous employer usually allows one day in a year as snow day all over the country . I am sure the tax payers do not approve a week's absence , with pay for our very wealthy Senators, Congressmen and senior bureaucrats of the administration in Washington D .C. area . It is hoped they do not give that ," working from home ..." excuse . It is a matter of principle i. e. , no work no pay . It is hoped that tax payers would be refunded in cash or credit , all salary and allowances entitlements due to elites of the Congress and administration for their last week's AOWL .

Posted by: dmfarooq | February 13, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

It was amazing to notice that two snow storms crippled and disrupted the work of important government institutions for eight days. I am sure this year's snow will serve them well for for the future snow storms and blizzards . A very generous employer allows one day in a year as snow day all over the country . I believe the tax payers do not approve a weeks absence with pay for very wealthy Senators , Congressmen and senior bureaucrats of the administration in Washington D .C. area . Please do not give us that: " working from home ..." excuse As a matter of principle i. e., no work no pay . I would like that the tax payers should be refunded in cash , all salary and allowances' entitlements due to the elites of the Congress and administration for their last week's AOWL .

Posted by: dmfarooq | February 13, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Since Durbin is from Illinois, I have three words for him: July of 1995.

Posted by: midanae | February 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't have people seen panicking over the storm itself. They are just upset with (local) government because the streets don't get plowed. And sure there are (northern) states that are used to these kind of conditions. Why didn't those states send any material (advise) this way? It's not like we didn't know the storm was coming.

Because the streets don't get plowed, people don't get to work. If they don't work, they don't earn money. If you don't have money you can't pay your mortgage. People don't want to loose their homes because of a blizzard.

We're still have a very low economic climate and 4 days with work and/or labor is deadly for both employees and businesses.

But I guess that something a senator don't have to worry about. His paycheck is secured. I only wish we could fire politicians that make stupid remarks..

Posted by: zyprexia | February 13, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I am so sick of people from the ACRTIC regions of the country complaining about the way this are handles snow. Hopefully (and I emphasize HOPEFULLY), this type of snow happens once every 5-7 years. It would be absolutely STUPID for area localities to spend money on snow removal if more times than not they don't need it. Trust me, if any local government set aside money every year for massive snow removal, members of Congress would probably call it a waste of money. So, here's an idea for those people from snow towns, offer a suggestion for what the DC area can do to be better prepared for the next blizzard. Unless you have a solution for the problem, please STOP STATING THE OBVIOUS!!

Posted by: DayDreaMer1 | February 13, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

sen durbin is correct in that wash area folks not only overract and drive poorly
but for good reason...each and every snow
presents challenges that are not in the rest of the country...only 1/2 of travel lanes are plowed and that itself makes for difficult and challenging driving...since nearly 60per of folks that work in dc live in maryland virginia deleware west va and even penn commute trans is not always when you see a 4lane road only 2lane which presents 1lane each dir and no lane for turning again that makes for difficult driving...also our nearly 8mil metro area is spread out over only about 50square miles so congestion is also self created...although i agree with senator durbin i want to remind him and other lawmakers on capitol hill that the everyday worker does not have the budget to provide services......which perhaps he takes with his position...thank you

Posted by: wmnatzakanian | February 13, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

It's moronic to be pretentious about the reaction to snow. The DC area usually gets inconsequential snow year to year. The infrastructure is not equipped for big snow storms. Most people don't winterize their cars (snow-tires, forward wheel or all wheel drive vehicles). The reason why, is that they for the most part do not need to do so.

Posted by: jabreal00 | February 13, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it annoying when people get pretentious with their snow experience ... ? As a Floridian, I would love to see how these people would react to a hurricane -- not to be pretentious myself!

Posted by: vietctran | February 13, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Well put, Senator! My home state is Alaska and I'm continually amazed at the widespread panic snow causes here in our area. Now this snowstorm wasn't inconsequential in anyone's book but the effect was magnified by a number of things like people having summer tires on their vehicles (instead of all-weather, or better, actual winter snow tires) and then wondering why they had no traction. Well, duh!

And the self-serving attitudes here in the Metro area amazes me as well. In my Burke area, people initially cleared their own driveways on Saturday but were then content to just sit back and wait for "someone" to clear the cul-de-sac. Or wait for "someone" to help the wife with two children despite her husband being deployed to Afghanistan. Being from Alaska, I'm used to neighbors helping neighbors until the total job is done (everyone in the neighborhood is dug out) and people being proactive (vehicle path cleared down the cul-de-sac when it became obvious snowplows weren't coming for an extended time). But the Marine in me wouldn't let the do-nothing residents merely sit in the house and complain. I cajoled, coaxed, threatened (no, just kidding, well maybe...I'm a big guy) them back outside and we did the total job and cleared a one-lane vehicle path down the cull-de-sac on Sunday to join with a larger subdivision road which was plowed fairly early on. And the deployed husband's wife? Guaranteed her driveway got cleared when several guys rolled in with shovels and a snowblower.

So I think calling Friday a federal work day was a good thing. The workforce had to finally come to grips with the fact that they were going to have to do something beyond writing complaints in the Post and clearing their own driveway if they expected to get to work and avoid taking winter leave sitting at home. They were going to have to look beyond their own little world and pull together. And that was a good thing.

And another thing that amazed me on Friday? The number of my (non-military) residents who took that two-hour delay as license to start in two hours later than normal. We had a couple civilian secretaries in my division pull that trick and then had the gall to complain about being given the option of staying later to put in a full eight hours or being charged leave when they didn't make it on time. They were counseled appropriately about what late reporting really means. Of course, the bright ones were inbound on the first train of the morning and had no major problems whatsoever. And were then released earlier than most which meant they also avoided the going-home public transportation fiasco. Just another example of why there's never a problem sorting out the top performers from the slackers come performance appraisal time.

Posted by: Post17 | February 13, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

FK Durbin, and that democratic jackass mascot he road in on.

Posted by: dashriprock | February 13, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

I moved to DC from northern Michigan in 2000, but I totally understand the DC (and Maryland and Virginia) residents reaction to snow - it is a complete nightmare here! In Michigan when it snows somebody comes and plows the snow away, usually within minutes of the first actually snowfall. In and around DC, when it snows, somebody may or may not come and if they do they plow all the nearby snow right into your driveway. In Michigan, they plow the roads completely. In and around DC, they might plow one lane of a two lane road but it alternates between lanes every few miles. In Michigan they have this wonderful substance called salt...

Posted by: RockRed | February 13, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Senator Durbin's comments are moronic. Residents of the D.C. area are not afraid of snow, but they are justifiably worried about the demonstrated incapacity of state and local governments to deal with snow. They know, from bitter experience, that roads will be left uncleared, and public transit paralyzed for days, even weeks. It doesn't have to be that way, and in many parts of the country it isn't that way, but it is here. If Durbin has been here for a "big part" of his life, and stil doesn't understand that, then he must be one dumb b*****d.

Posted by: lydgate | February 13, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

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