Governors, Mayors Prepare For National Hot Seat With Historic Blizzard
WASHINGTON (CNN) — As the East Coast — especially Washington — prepares for a potentially record-breaking blizzard to hit Friday, local and state officials are preparing to respond to weather, as well as to feel the political heat.
Governors and mayors from the mid-Atlantic and Northeast took to the airwaves and social media to warn their constituents about the looming weather threat and show their preparedness, though at least one prominent top executive remained out of state hours before the storm was supposed to hit.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is running for president and was originally scheduled to remain on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, said Friday that he was canceling his plans to return to New Jersey.
“I’m sorry, NH but I gotta go home – we got snow coming. #Jonas,” he tweeted, referencing a nickname for the storm. “But I will be back, because I am able to do both things. The fact is – you are never not the governor.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both appeared on television shows Friday morning to assure viewers their cities were ready for the historic snow storm — and to answer questions about past mishandling of weather events.
“We certainly have been preparing for this blizzard all week, which is going to drop a huge amount of snow on the District of Columbia that we haven’t really seen in 90 years,” Bowser said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Bowser said crews have been pre-treating roads already and the city has hired extra resources to help deal with the storm.
De Blasio said New York is also preparing for the weather system, which could stretch north into his city.
“New York City has a huge capacity for these situations,” he said on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday. “Everyone’s on high alert right now, we take this very, very seriously.”
Both mayors implored residents to stay indoors for the duration of the system.
The two officials also faced questions about bungling past storms, including a small snowfall of an inch on Wednesday that paralyzed D.C.
“What happened this week … was a clipper that came in that, quite frankly, it outperformed the forecast and we didn’t get enough resources on it,” Bowser sid. “We have very much said that we can and will do better for this storm.”
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked de Blasio about a 2014 storm in which neighborhoods of New York felt they were under-served by storm response intentionally.
“Everyone’s treated the same,” de Blasio said. “We’ve seen that when we throw the full force of what we have, we can handle a storm like this.”
State officials are also preparing for the storm. States of emergency have been declared in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
“Ice is a major, major concern,” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory told CNN’s Michaela Pereira on “New Day” on Friday, saying a combination of rain and sleet are washing away road treatments and increasing the risk for black ice in his state.
“We do want to make sure people are very, very careful,” McCrory said.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the state was the first to declare of a state of emergency and is prepared to shut highways because “you ought to err on the side of caution.”
But he also said the state was preparing, even as repeated the call for people to stay home.
“The good news is, we have repositioned all the equipment, we have the equipment ready, we have the personnel, we’ve moved aggressively,” McAuliffe said. “Please don’t go on the roads if you don’t have to.”
Parts of Virginia could face anywhere from a foot to three feet of snow.
Christie has experience with natural disasters in his state. When Hurricane Sandy hit, his impassioned defense of his residents and criticism of Congress’ response to the devastating storm rocketed him into the national conversation.
It helped cement his reputation as a brash, non-nonsense Republican — but also drew him criticism from Republicans for his embrace of President Barack Obama, literally and figuratively, on the tarmac in New Jersey and for his response to the storm just days before Obama’s 2012 re-election.