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Posted at 10:45 PM ET, 01/26/2011

Gray satisfied with storm response

By Steve Hendrix and Mike DeBonis


D.C. mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday night he is satisfied so far with the city's response to the winter storm.

"We've put a lot of preparation into this, and I think we were well prepared," he said at a late-night, sidewalk press conference in Dupont Circle. "I wish we had been able to get this snow off the streets instantly, but that's not possible."

As of 11 p.m. Wednesday, the city has not declared a snow emergency. Asked whether the city should have done so, Gray said he thought the department of public works had responded appropriately to the conditions as they were forecast.

"You can speculate about a lot of these things," Gray said. "I thought the right calls were made. It's unfortunate that the snow came down so rapidly, and especially wet snow, making it harder to clear."

Bill Howland, the city's public works director, said at the 10 p.m. press conference that the city normally declares a snow emergency when officials expect at least six inches of snow.

Shortly before rush hour started at 4 p.m., "we didn't rthink we were going to get that much. We may be close to it now," Howland said. The city usually tries to declare a snow emergency at least an hour before rush hour, so people can move their cars off of snow emergency lanes.

Millicent West, head of the city's homeland security and emergency management agency, said the biggest problem with Wednesday's storm was not the amount of snow, but the rapid drop in temperature, plus the wintry mix of precipitation, which created ice on the roads.

"We're all struggling with the sheet of ice under the two inches of snow," West said Wednesday night.

This story has been updated.

By Steve Hendrix and Mike DeBonis  | January 26, 2011; 10:45 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, DC  
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Comments

Response was good? No snow emergency? Tell that to all the people stuck for hours on DC roads. Maybe Gray should have paid attention to the CWG who got it right. Hail Marion Barry II. Next thing you know, Gray will tell people to walk to get around rather than drive, like MB did back in the 80's.

Posted by: fwillyhess | January 27, 2011 1:29 AM | Report abuse

I was stuck on a bus for SIX HOURS. No, I moved here from Chicago and this city cannot handle the snow at all. Six Hours. And then an hour walking once it was safe to get off.

Posted by: Scribbly29 | January 27, 2011 3:28 AM | Report abuse

You what Gray, Fenty or anyone else can't do? Tell people from the suburbs not to block the intersections. Your panicked dashes back to your subdivisions should involve not entering an already clogged intersection when the light is yellow. It happens every time we have snow.

And for the record, looking at people stuck on the beltway and 66, roads everywhere were horrid and people were stuck.

Posted by: alwayswonderswhy | January 27, 2011 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Score so far...

Snow: 1
Gray: 0

Anyone missing Mayor Fenty?

Posted by: ChuckinMtP | January 27, 2011 6:12 AM | Report abuse

nope. not missing fenty. not at all.

Posted by: alwayswonderswhy | January 27, 2011 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Despite being a Gray supporter, I have to say that my street, as of 7:00 AM, has not been touched. Now it is a sheet of ice that will depend on salt treatment by individuals and shoveling/picking by individuals to clear.

I am not sure how leadership can be satisfied when residents have not received services that are part of the social contract.

Posted by: LukasWP | January 27, 2011 7:00 AM | Report abuse

DC government - CLOSED.
Federal government - OPEN, with 2h delay.

Well done, Mayor Gray. Another day off for the very hard working DC govt employees.

Posted by: terencef100 | January 27, 2011 7:41 AM | Report abuse

DC government - CLOSED.
Federal government - OPEN, with 2h delay.

Well done, Mayor Gray. Another day off for the very hard working DC govt employees.

Posted by: terencef100 | January 27, 2011 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Actually, keeping as many cars off the road today is the wise approach, so that the plows can actually do their work, and abandoned cars can be towed. That will make tomorrow's commute much easier. So, closing everything for a day is smart. Does anybody want a repeat of yesterday's commute?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 27, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Actually, keeping as many cars off the road today is the wise approach, so that the plows can actually do their work, and abandoned cars can be towed. That will make tomorrow's commute much easier. So, closing everything for a day is smart. Does anybody want a repeat of yesterday's commute?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 27, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Like a previous commenter on this site, I am a Gray supporter. Therefore, I will do my part to support his administration, within reason. However, I will not man salt and snow treatment trucks, when I know there are people who are qualified and accountable to perform those services. And I will not lend leadership when we pay good money to people under the mayor's charge that are supposed to manage its removal. The mayor of the District of Columbia has always been and will continue to be graded by how he or she removes snow from our city thruways. Last night was a disaster that didn't have to happen. I disagree with Mayor Gray. P.S. I live in Penn Branch, ward 7. I noticed that Councilwoman Alexander's street was the only street cleared this morning. I'm just saying.

Posted by: votersparticipat | January 27, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

As of 8:45 this morning still no plows in Cathedral Heights in NW D.C. This neighborhood was ALWAYS either plowed or treated during the Williams and Fenty administrations.

Posted by: rrno62 | January 27, 2011 8:50 AM | Report abuse

As of 8:45 this morning still no plows in Cathedral Heights in NW D.C. This neighborhood was ALWAYS either plowed or treated during the Williams and Fenty administrations.

Posted by: rrno62 | January 27, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I think Mayor Gray must not have been in DC last night. It took me 4 hours to get home, five miles from my office. The buses stopped picking up passengers on Wisconsin Ave at 5:00 pm, but nobody told us. (Three out-of-service buses passed by which just outraged those of us who had been waiting for over an hour.) Calling the Metro phone line was more frustrating than trying to call Baghdad. The conversation at the bus stop was why the city dumped tons of salt last week when there was no snow and last night? No plows, no salt. Mayor Gray, You should not be satisfied with a response that did not happen. What a nightmare!!

Posted by: snowbound2 | January 27, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

@Scribbly29: Welcome to DC. I moved here from New England 13 years ago and am constantly astonished by the area's response to snow. What I don't get is why everyone acts surprised when it snows, even with ample warning. This isn't Miami, folks. It snows here every year. And why a 12-ton bus can't navigate a little snow is beyond me.

Posted by: Daffodil123 | January 27, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

@Scribbly29: Welcome to DC. I moved here from New England 13 years ago and am constantly astonished by the area's response to snow. What I don't get is why everyone acts surprised when it snows, even with ample warning. This isn't Miami, folks. It snows here every year. And why a 12-ton bus can't navigate a little snow is beyond me.

Posted by: Daffodil123 | January 27, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

If Grey and OPM had listened to their talented CWG, they could have done the following things:

1. A state of emergency could have been called. It wasn't.
2. There was plenty of time for trucks to re-salt and re-sand roads between 8am and 2pm yesterday. They didn't.
3. Metrobuses could have announced a shut-down at 5pm. They didn't.
4. OPM could have released federal workers at noon to avoid the 13-hour traffic jam. They didn't.

Posted by: Anonymous123451 | January 27, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

This is what happens when you vote for a guy whose entire platform is "let's make things happen slower, or not at all."

Posted by: Anonymous123451 | January 27, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I’m from Chicago and have lived in DC since 2003 and I can’t understand why they can’t get a snow plan right. Every year it snows and the people here says “this is unusual, it doesn’t snow here much” and it has snowed every single year that I have been here, go figure. This is not southern Florida, five to seven inches of snow should not close a federal city down! Where is mayor Daley LOL?

Posted by: anatomy1on1 | January 27, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Was Mayor Gray looking at the same storm as the rest of us?

Posted by: GP04 | January 27, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I’m from Chicago and have lived in DC since 2003 and I can’t understand why they can’t get a snow plan right. Every year it snows and the people here says “this is unusual, it doesn’t snow here much” and it has snowed every single year that I have been here, go figure. This is not southern Florida, five to seven inches of snow should not close a federal city down! Where is mayor Daley LOL?

Posted by: anatomy1on1 | January 27, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

You people are rediculous...

Stop all this whining and get over the fact that Fenty lost. Last winter you were out in a storm TOO... ALONG WITH YOUR KIDS because the stupid Mayor... who had a city owned NAVIGATOR AND WAS DRIVEN AROUND BY POLICE OFFICERS figured if he could get around, so could everybody else. No closed Govt, no closed schools, AND NO PLOWS!!!

I have been looking at the same news stations as you, at all the horror stories in the area, GW parkway, 270, 66, 495, rt 50... STUCK FOR AT LEAST 8 hours... and the thing you complain about is the Mayor of DC CLOSING Govt when fed govt is open late? And this has nothing to do with your boy losing right? Whatever.

Your mad because he listened to the NWS and spent money salting the street last week when the storm bypassed DC and your mad this week because he listened to NWS and salted the streets early yesterday and instead of starting with snow, it started raining and washed the salt away. Then you get mad today because he thought it a good idea to give people time to clear their sidewalks and steps instead of demanding they leave home at 6am to get to work and then giving them a fine when they didnt have time to clear their walkways and steps.... just like FENTY DID!!! GOOD GRIEF!!! Get over it!

The worse issues that occurred in DC yesterday were not even related to unpassable streets. They were because of fallen trees blocking the streets and power outages messing up the traffic lights. And I guess just like the poster who blamed his metro issues on the mayor, you think its his fault the trees fell and his fault the snow was too heavy for the power lines too. So next storm, when he starts spending money to melt the ice from pepco lines so they dont get stressed and paying to shore up all trees in DC (even on private property), you will have two new somethings to complain about. IDIOTS!!!

Posted by: tformation1 | January 27, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The District's response was as good as could be expected. Lets review, city crews were out pre-treating and treating the roads prior to and during the first storm. When the second, more powerful storm came through, first wiht rain/sleet washing all of the pre-treatment away, the city had every piece of equipment at its disposal out staged and prepared to salt and plow. When the snow began to fall during rush hour, they were caught in the same gridlock as everyone else.

In hindsight, best case scenario, the Feds should have let employees leave at the noon hour considering we knew the approximate time of the snowfall, this way drivers would have been out of the city when the snow began to fall and crews in the city, and region, could have better access to the roads.

All of the emergency evacuation routes out of town were gridlocked. The city is just not designed to accommodate a sudden quick evacuation with mass traffic. Studies have been done and exercises have been executed. To execute a mass evacuation you have to have resources in DC, MD and VA who can coordinate the process, you have to have traffic "people" manage vehicles coming to and from secondary roads onto major arterioles when you turn all traffic lanes into one way out of town. You have to tow cars parked along the evacuation routes to accommodate such an effort. If you increase the timing of the traffic signals it has to be seamless between DC, MD and VA.

We are in a recession, DC, MD and VA have terminated thousands of employees in order to balance budgets. All jurisdictions have staffing shortages and DC has a hiring freeze. You need bodies in the transportation departments of DC/MD/VA to make this work. Bodies that, unfortunately, these governments don't have.

If you wanted small government, hey, that is what you have. You cannot have it both ways.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | January 28, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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