Northern Virginia was hit by the worst snowstorms in — well, maybe ever, this week, leaving thousands of residents without power or heat, as temperatures dropped to below freezing, and thousands more struggling to stay alive in their stalled or otherwise stopped vehicles on Interstate 95 and the alternate north-south Route 1. And where were the Democrats? Where was Virginia’s illustrious Democratic governor, Ralph Northam?
‘Cause they certainly weren’t sending out the salt, sand or tow trucks to help. Not in any noticeable way, at least.
It took a day for the outgoing governor to even send around a public statement about how much he was doing to help the stranded — and it was a generic statement at that, written by a communication’s official on behalf of Northam.
Look at these headlines: “I-95 reopens in Virginia after winter storm forced closure that stranded motorists,” The Washington Post wrote. “I-95 in Virginia reopens after winter storm strands some drivers for more than 24 hours,” CNN wrote. “Stranded Drivers Are Freed After 24-Hour Snowy Ordeal on I-95 in Virginia,” The New York Times wrote.
And some more: “Amtrak train stranded in Virginia for nearly 40 hours without food due to storm,” The New York Post wrote. “Snow stalls Amtrak in Virginia, with excruciating delays,” WTOP wrote. “Atlanta-Amtrak passengers trapped 30-plus hours on train due to Virginia snowstorm,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote.
And yet more: “I-95 in Va. reopens as motorists battle bailout traffic jam on Route 1,” WTOP wrote. “‘Starving, freezing’: Hundreds of travelers left stranded on I-95 in Virginia while road was closed,” ABC Channel 8 wrote.
On Amtrak, the toilets stopped up and overflowed. On I-95, busses, tractors and tractor-trailers jackknifed and slipped and blocked lanes for hours, trapping both riders and other motorists, who then ran out of gas and caused even more backups. One truck driver hired to plow road reported a 10-plus hour drive from Manassas to Stafford — which usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes — because of downed trees, downed power lines, abandoned vehicles and accidents.
It was a real state of emergency.
But where was the declared state of emergency?
Northam, who is due to leave office this month, called for a state of emergency in August 2021 for Tropical Depression Ida. He called for a state of emergency in May 2021 to address gasoline supply problems. He even called for a state of emergency in January 2020 ahead of a pro-Second Amendment rally on state Capitol grounds.
But where was his state of emergency for the snow-zilla storm that left tens of thousands in various states of peril?
Where was the call for the National Guard — the plea to Capitol Hill for funding, for full cooperation, for fervently needed aid and assistance?
“My team has been working throughout the night alongside [state agencies] to respond to the situation on I-95. State and local emergency personnel are continuing to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles and re-route drivers,” Northam’s office tweeted on Jan. 4.
Jan. 4. That was a day after the storm started, leaving up to 18 inches of snow that rapidly turned to ice in parts of the state.
But Northam’s team was working. His team was responding.
His team was busy pointing fingers at — Virginians.
“We gave warnings and people need to pay attention to these warnings, and the less people that are on the highways when these storms hit, the better,” Northam said to The Post, in explanation of the I-95 disaster.
It’s your fault, Joe Virginia. You’re to blame, Jane Virginia.
What a guy, that Northam. If he were a Republican, he’d never get by with such dereliction of duty, and such arrogant pointing of finger.
He’s leaving office in a few days, ceding his post to the incoming Republican, Glenn Youngkin. Thank goodness. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, governor.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.