D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser apologized for last night's traffic meltdown, speculating that if the city had deployed road crews earlier yesterday, the nightmare experienced by commuters would never have happened.
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"We are very sorry for an inadequate response,” Bowser said. “We should have been out earlier with more resources.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting blizzard conditions in the District, with up to 20 inches of snow over the weekend. The storm is expected to hit the area around 4 p.m. Saturday.
Bowser declared a state of emergency for the District today, which gives city officials access to federal resources. She urged residents to clear vehicles that might block snow emergency routes. The District is coordinating with the National Guard, FEMA and Homeland Security.
“We are preparing for a blizzard,” she said. “It is an extremely large storm...conditions could change at any given moment.”
Bowser also said the city has 106 heavy plows, 37 contact plows, over 70 light plows, 30 loaders, 20 bobcats, and 145 dump trucks to handle the storm. More than 39 tons of salt are in storage.
“We want to make sure that sidewalks are clear just like the roadways,” Bowser said.
Thousands of volunteers have signed up to help residents clear the sidewalks and assist seniors who cannot leave their homes.
In the event of power outages, Bowser said Pepco, the local utility company, is working with the District of Columbia's Department of Transportation to fully prepare for any possible problems in the region.
Bowser encouraged residents to call 311 if they see homeless residents or people that need assistance during the storm.
“I want residents to be safe throughout this storm,” she said.
DC public schools will be closed Friday and government offices will close at noon.