Update: Obama Signs Emergency Declaration for Washington
Mayor Vincent Gray earlier Sunday asked President Barack Obama to make federal assistance available for the District of Columbia in advance of Hurricane Sandy.
Update 8:38 p.m. Sunday
President Obama this evening granted Mayor Vince Gray's request for an emergency declaration for the District of Columbia.
The emergency declaration is in effect immediately, and gives DC residents and officials access to resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal resources for the duration of the storm and its aftermath.
Original post 4:36 p.m. Sunday
DC Mayor Vincent Gray has asked President Barack Obama for a Presidential Disaster Declaration, but assures District residents that their local government is "ready to meet this challenge."
“Let me be clear: this storm is unique, large, dangerous and unlike anything our region has experienced in a very long time,” said Gray in a prepared statement. The mayor warned of likely "significant power outages" and the possibility of "significant street flooding."
During a press conference Gray told reporters that District’s agencies are coordinating with "regional, utility and federal partners" to prepare for the storm and its potential widespread impacts.
In asking the president for a disaster declaration prior to the storm, Gray hopes to secure federal assistance to help the offset the costs the storm will create for D.C.
"Because of the unique characteristics of this storm event which threatens destruction that could result in a major disaster, I am requesting a pre-landfall declaration of emergency in the District of Columbia," wrote Gray in his letter to Obama.
Gray advises the administration that he has taken necessary steps at the local level to activate an emergency plan, but also reminds the president of the impacts on government and federal businesses when major storms disrupt the day-to-day operations of the city.
"The potential damage from the anticipated storms requires further federal help," wrote Gray in a his letter to the president.
The press release also included a list of activities the District is undertaking to prepare for the storm's arrival:
- D.C. Public Schools are closed on Monday, Oct. 29, including all after-school programs and athletic events. Principals, teachers and school-based staff who are not essential personnel do not report to school tomorrow. Central-office staff and essential school-based personnel should refer to the DCPS website for updates about whether they will be required to report to work.
- The District government will act in concert with the federal Office of Personnel Management to decide whether to close the D.C. government on Monday; that decision will be announced this evening.
- Mayor Gray has declared a state of emergency in the District and has sent President Obama a pre-landfall request for a presidential disaster declaration, which would provide federal assistance to help the District defray the extra costs the storm will impose on the city. A copy of the request letter is attached to this release.
- DC Water is clearing storm drains citywide.
- The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is assigning staff and contractors to be ready to collect storm debris starting Monday, Oct. 29, and DPW crews will assist.
- DPW tow trucks will be deployed as necessary to remove vehicles blocking roadways.
- DDOT has generators in place at major intersections. If power is disrupted, traffic signals will continue to work, and DDOT traffic control officers will be deployed to direct traffic where necessary.
- DPW is suspending street cleaning Monday through Wednesday. Bulk garbage collections for Monday and Tuesday will be rescheduled. Also, residents are asked to bag their leaves so they don’t collect in the storm drains and cause flooding.
- Crews from DC Water and District government agencies are being deployed to assist the residents of Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park, a section of the city that has been especially hard-hit by street flooding due to backed-up storm drains during heavy downpours.