Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat, has asked President Obama to declare a federal emergency in response to the record snowfall. Such a declaration would make area governments most of which already have spent their snow budgets for the year eligible for federal disaster relief.
More than a foot of new snow fell Wednesday and wind gusts of up to 40 mph created near-whiteout conditions. But this second blizzard in a week to pulverize the region didn’t stop thousands of medical, public safety and social service personnel whose services were needed.
“We’re out there doing our jobs,” said Sgt. Nicholas Breul of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, where 700 people worked Wednesday, only a little less than typical. “The show must go on.”
But getting there wasn’t always easy.
Sgt. Breul said the National Guard has offered its services - and 12 Humvees - to the department. The Humvees, which are all-terrain military vehicles, were used in some cases to pick up officers and other department staff from their homes on otherwise impassible streets.
The department also made use of its own sport utility vehicles to respond to calls throughout the District, which Sgt. Breul said were generally lower than usual and mostly related to traffic issues.
Some police cruisers were outfitted with snow chains on their tires.
Sgt. Breul said the chains didn’t come quite in time for one officer whose cruiser got stuck in the snow on the way to getting the chains. Fortunately, Sgt. Bruel said, a group of citizens gave the cruiser a push, which helped free it from the snow.
“Sometimes the police need a little help,” he said.
Such civic spirit also allowed most area hospitals to remain staffed and fully operation during the two storms, after they put out calls to the general public for four-wheel drive vehicles to help get doctors and nurses and other staff to work.
Che Parker, a spokesman for Inova Health System, said all five Northern Virginia hospitals in his system were fully staffed and operating Wednesday morning as they had been over the weekend.
Kimberly Gibbs, spokeswoman at the 318-bed Alexandria Inova Hospital, said volunteers brought in doctors, nurses and other staff, who generally stayed once they were at the facility.
“Two hundred and fifty staff members stayed overnight,” she said. “Nearly 100 volunteers with four-wheel drive took staff to and from work.”
Mr. Parker said several of his facilities in Alexandria, Fairfax and Mount Vernon still need volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“The community response has been great,” Mr. Parker said.View Entire Story
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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