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D.C. council members call for National Guard clean-up help

Several D.C. Council members are calling on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to ask President Obama to declare the District a federal emergency and send in the National Guard to help clean up the snow

The council members, some of whom have been feuding with Fenty over various issues in recent weeks, said they do not believe the city has the resources to dig out of two consecutive blizzards without help and equipment from the federal government.

"If there is ever a time for a state of emergency, this is it," said Council member Kwame Brown (D-At large). "This District is not only facing a crippling snowstorm but we're facing a crippling budget shortfall and citywide safety issues. We need to call on the federal government dollars and resources."

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) sent Fenty a letter Friday asking that he request a full mobilization of the D.C. National Guard, which is under control of President Obama.

"Thousands of citizens have found it impossible to leave their homes, to go to work, church and to shop," Barry wrote. "I am asking you to ask all federal agencies to use their resources and equipment to help in the plowing of snow, particularly, the Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service."

Although 10 National Guard humvees are currently on duty in the city, neither Fenty nor federal officials have announced plans to use the guard to clean up the snow.

"Help from the National Guard is exactly what this city needs immediately to help with snow plowing, medical transports and to help bring us back to a sense of normalcy in the District in the coming days," Barry said.

Earlier today, Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) also issued a statement calling on Fenty ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for additional resources.

Fenty, who is suppose to have a news conference early this evening, was not immediately available for comment. But at a press conference this morning, Fenty said the city will be requesting additional equipment from contractors.

Council member Jim Graham (D0Ward 1) also said in an e-mail that he supports efforts to have the city declared a federal disaster zone. "We sure could use the federal funds to dig out of this," Graham wrote.

UPDATE: City emergency management director Millicent Williams responded in an e-mail to Graham, "The DC National Guard is committed to providing as much support as they have available to meet the needs of District residents. Please note that the local Guard does not have "engineering" equipment or garrisons dedicated to that task. They have, however, at the city's request, begun to reach out to neighboring jurisdictions to secure the support (personnel and equipment) required to fulfill the mission."

-- Tim Craig and Theola Labbe-DeBose

By Anne Bartlett  |  February 10, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Council , Marion Barry , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig  
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Next: Chris Matthews: Fenty handled snow poorly


Wait, we want lower taxes and a lower deficit. No big government. Let the miracle of the marketplace, as Sarah Palin would put it, clean up the snow.

Posted by: Sutter | February 10, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The DC government is asking for disaster relief, but send DC employees to work and to brave through the "disaster?" Something doesnt seem right with this...either it is dangerous and people are buried in snow or they are okay and can go to work. Make up your mind.

It will surprise me if Fenty asks for help, it will damage his ego too much.

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | February 10, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Those well paying, shovel-ready, jobs are here. Thanks, Barry.

Posted by: EXPAT4 | February 10, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with the Council members on this one. I left the city yesterday, seeking some type of normalcy down south (who would've thought, huh) and the neighborhoods were a complete mess. I'm honestly afraid to come back because 1) I'm tired of driving around for hours looking for a spot, and 2) I don't want my car to get towed again because I couldn't find a spot after looking for 1 and 1/2.

It's time to send it the calvary.

Posted by: mmurphy6 | February 10, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Psssst...most of your federal employess are on a paid 10 day vacation--how are they going to help?

Posted by: dmedman50 | February 10, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Psssst...most of your federal employess are on a paid 10 day vacation--how are they going to help?
since when does 4 equal 10?

Posted by: bmp246 | February 10, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I am a councilman in a "small" town outside of Philadelphia, but my wife lives in Alexandria and works in downtown Washington. I was "stunned" last week at the condition of 395 two days (Sunday evening) after the snow, and Massachusetts Avenue in front of Union Station was a disaster. It was if Metro Washington had no heavy equipment at all. And in my small town with one heavy truck, our streets were basically clear. I mean I saw pavement -- lot's of it. I can only imagine if things didn't miraculously turn around in DC on Monday and Tuesday (and I doubt they did) what conditions must be like there now. It must be nearly impassible -- with four or five inches of ICE now on the road, plus another 15 to 20 inches of snow. Come on Fenty, I remember when YOU ran for council on fixing potholes and cutting tree limbs -- this is bigger than that!!!

Posted by: bukumuki | February 10, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I hate when people post comments and they have no clue what's going on in DC. Dmedman50, the help DC would receive is the National Guard will be used (in DC Nat'l Guard falls under the Pres.), federal money will be available, and federal equipment from other areas of the country to remove and dispose of the snow (trucks, bulldozers, etc). Also, all essential and emergency employees of the federal government are at work...they dont get the day off.

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | February 10, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

As a Washingtonian, I am wondering where our "State of Emergency?" Unfortunately, we don't have a governor, so the President has to declare it for us. We need/will need assistance for this major disaster.

Posted by: g_loizzo | February 10, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

FenTool wouldn't think twice about leverage his executive authority to clear a steet or public facility for his personal enjoyment. He needs to move his ego out of the way and ask for the assistance needed to dig this city out. I don't fault the DPW and other essential personnel who have worked tirelessly, but they can only do as much as they can with what the resources they are provided. I do not want to see him on tv patting his administration on the back for a job well done if he under these trying circumstances, he is unwilling to work with others (i.e. concur with the council), and request some much needed assistance.

Posted by: logosdesigns | February 11, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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