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Posted at 05:22 PM ET, 02/10/2010

D.C. council members call for National Guard clean-up help

Several D.C. Council members are calling on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to ask President Obama to declare the District a federal emergency and send in the National Guard to help clean up the snow

The council members, some of whom have been feuding with Fenty over various issues in recent weeks, said they do not believe the city has the resources to dig out of two consecutive blizzards without help and equipment from the federal government.

"If there is ever a time for a state of emergency, this is it," said Council member Kwame Brown (D-At large). "This District is not only facing a crippling snowstorm but we're facing a crippling budget shortfall and citywide safety issues. We need to call on the federal government dollars and resources."

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) sent Fenty a letter Friday asking that he request a full mobilization of the D.C. National Guard, which is under control of President Obama.

"Thousands of citizens have found it impossible to leave their homes, to go to work, church and to shop," Barry wrote. "I am asking you to ask all federal agencies to use their resources and equipment to help in the plowing of snow, particularly, the Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service."

Although 10 National Guard humvees are currently on duty in the city, neither Fenty nor federal officials have announced plans to use the guard to clean up the snow.

"Help from the National Guard is exactly what this city needs immediately to help with snow plowing, medical transports and to help bring us back to a sense of normalcy in the District in the coming days," Barry said.

Earlier today, Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) also issued a statement calling on Fenty ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for additional resources.

Fenty, who is suppose to have a news conference early this evening, was not immediately available for comment. But at a press conference this morning, Fenty said the city will be requesting additional equipment from contractors.

Council member Jim Graham (D0Ward 1) also said in an e-mail that he supports efforts to have the city declared a federal disaster zone. "We sure could use the federal funds to dig out of this," Graham wrote.

UPDATE: City emergency management director Millicent Williams responded in an e-mail to Graham, "The DC National Guard is committed to providing as much support as they have available to meet the needs of District residents. Please note that the local Guard does not have "engineering" equipment or garrisons dedicated to that task. They have, however, at the city's request, begun to reach out to neighboring jurisdictions to secure the support (personnel and equipment) required to fulfill the mission."

-- Tim Craig and Theola Labbe-DeBose

By Anne Bartlett  |  05:22 PM ET, 02/10/2010

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig, Tim Craig, Tim Craig, Tim Craig

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