In snowed-under cities, many struggle to return to work
Washington — After more than three days with life at a virtual standstill in the nation’s capital and elsewhere up and down the East Coast, the cities hit hard by a massive snowstorm were getting closer to their normal routines.
In the Washington area, the Metro subway system was closer to fully operational Tuesday, although several suburban stations remained closed and trains were running less often. Schools in the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and Maryland were still closed, and federal offices were closed for another day, but city government employees were back at work.
New York City recovered more quickly, with subway and bus service fully operational Monday, although commuter trains were limited. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio credited better communication and other lessons learned after fiascoes during the 2010 “Snowmageddon” storm. But New York usually gets much more snow than Washington and budgets accordingly, spending three times as much per lane-mile for snow removal.
In Baltimore, which got more than 2 feet of snow, plenty of people were still freeing their cars, and many side streets remained unplowed.
“I’m expected to be at work but I don’t have the best car for snow,” said Tameka Smith, who was doing her best to shovel out her maroon sedan. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s ridiculous to expect people to get to their offices today.”
In downtown Washington, conditions on Tuesday morning had improved significantly from 24 hours earlier, but the city was still moving at half-speed, thanks largely to the federal government closure. Car traffic from northern Virginia was light, and Virginia’s commuter rail service was still closed.
Metro’s red line, which brings commuters in from Maryland, was standing-room-only as usual as trains rumbled through the Metro Center station downtown at 9 a.m.
“There was a lot of snow. I was expecting worse,” said Michael Pollock, a 29-year-old law student commuting from northwest Washington to Judiciary Square. The snow removal exceeded his expectations; still, he was relieved many workers stayed home.
“It would be a lot messier if the federal government was not shut down. The Metro would have been bad. It was pretty crowded as it is.”
The city’s tourist attractions were also slowly getting up and running, with some Smithsonian museums welcoming visitors again Tuesday. Many National Park Service attractions remained closed.
Joann Dombrowski of Baltimore said her son’s car is stuck on a road still full of snow, and his boss threatened to fire him if he didn’t show up.
“Nobody’s come up to plow. It’s just ridiculous. People have to do something, people have to get to work,” she said.
With the District likely to blow through most if not all of its $6.2 million snow-removal budget, Mayor Muriel Bowser has already requested federal disaster assistance. Baltimore, too, was likely to spend more than it planned.
“When you have a storm of historic proportions, the budget will be historic as well,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Residents in southern New Jersey were still cleaning up the mess from flooding, and officials there warned that repairing the damage and beach erosion could be expensive.