President Barack Obama authorized federal disaster relief funds for Washington, D.C., to help the city cope with January’s historic blizzard that destroyed the city’s storm cleanup budget and embarrassed officials nationally for the slow and ineffective response.
“The President today declared a major disaster exists in the District of Columbia and ordered federal aid to supplement the District’s recovery efforts,” reads Friday’s press release from The White House.
The blizzard, which hit the city Jan. 22, unleashed nearly three feet of snow. crippled buses and trains and made the unsalted, under-prepared roads impossible to navigate. It was the D.C. government’s response, however, that drew the ire of local residents, reports WUSA9
Poorly prioritized plowing and a generally slow cleanup response left cars buried and sidewalks with mountains of snow that forced pedestrians into the streets. Millions in traffic tickets were written during the storm which residents bemoaned as unfair and added to the anger with city officials. Mayor Muriel Bowser quickly backed off on the traffic fines, forgiving most of the tickets, however it did little to restore confidence in the district’s ability to handle a big storm. (RELATED: DC Will Forgive Blizzard Tickets, But People Are Still Pissed)
“The hardest part was getting the stroller through the unclean sidewalks,” Isam Qahwash, a city resident originally from New Jersey, told Reuters. “It seems like they move really slow cleaning the snow here.”
The disaster relief is a much-needed boost to the district’s coffers. Washington, D.C.’s, budget for snowstorm cleanup in 2016 was allocated at $6 million. Within three days of the storm the that figure doubled. Presently the city has spent $50 million, exceeding the planned budget by over 700 percent. (RELATED: DC Blows Budget On Blizzard Cleanup, Mayor Says People Are Happy With Government Response)
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