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It could be Tuesday before the city is “up on all cylinders,” Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said this morning.
The statement is a step back from Hizzoner’s aggressive talk over the weekend, about having the city “open for business” by Monday after 26 inches of snowfall. The District government completely closed today for weather reason for the first time under Fenty’s watch—-a decision that he said was due to “the heaviest winds we’ve seen in a snowstorm this winter, recent winters, maybe ever.”
City officials also took pains to put this month’s storms in the proper perspective. Fenty noted that the weekend storm was the second-highest single-event snowfall ever for the city, and that the city’s seasonal snowfall record is likely to be broken. DDOT chief Gabe Klein called the storm “absolutely historic for the region and for Washington.”
The officials, in various ways, sought to discern this snow event from the December “snowpocalypse” that was handled relatively smoothly by city crews, earning Fenty wide plaudits. Expectations are being lowered, attitudes are less gung-ho.
Recovery from the storm, Fenty said, is “going to be in stages,” with a goal to “get as many businesses up and running by tomorrow and Friday.” But it may take a long holiday weekend to render the city fully mobile, he said. Fenty added that street clearing can depend on factors out of a government’s hands: how quickly it warms up, for instance. He noted that the weekend snow “froze much quicker” than the big December snow, complicating cleanup plans. Added Klein, “You’ve got to deal with snow removal differently with the quantity” that’s fallen—-as much as a foot more than in December, all told.
Plow crews will be working 12-hour shifts for the foreseeable future; the Department of Public Works has called in dozen of private trucks to help the city, in addition to using heavy equipment—-bulldozers, front-end loaders—-to assist the plows. The D.C. National Guard has about 10 Humvees out in the city, moving key city personnel, such as fire and police, around. DPW chief Bill Howland added that 100 trucks worth of salt were delivered to the city yesterday.
As for the budget impact? Don’t ask, but Fenty says the city will be applying for federal emergency funds available to local governments who have had “historic” snowfall—-a category that applies to both the December snowpocalypse and this month’s storms.