Describing Wednesday's blizzard as "outrageous," D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said the city will be calling in extra equipment to start digging out snowbound residents.
At a mid-morning update, Fenty said the District will likely have its all-time snowiest winter this season, and he urged residents to be patients as crews began trying to remove the snow.
"No one ever has seen this much snow in Washington D.C.," said Fenty, noting there have been four snowstorms in 10 days.
Fenty said he will request that the federal government reimburse the city for some of its cleanup costs. Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) sent out a statement this morning calling on Fenty to also ask that President Obama declare a federal emergency.
"This would enable the US Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency to supplement local response efforts," said Thomas, adding much of Northeast Washington is currently immobilized. "Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide at its discretion, equipment, resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of an emergency."
Over the weekend, as the city started digging out of 2 feet of snow, Fenty was optimistic that life could quickly get back to normal. But after this latest storm, Fenty acknowledged the recovery process will stretch into the weekend.
Fenty said businesses in the city should prepare to reopen in stages, depending on how soon the snow stops.
"We want to be able to work through the night to get as many business up as possible," Fenty said.
Gabe Klein, director of the Department of Transportation, said the consecutive snowfalls have been "absolutely historic."
"In a dense urban environment, we have to deal with this differently," Klein said.
Klein and Fenty said the city has more than 200 snow plows currently operating in the city. But it will be bringing in additional contractors with heavy equipment, as well smaller, more mobile equipment to begin removing snow from clogged side streets.
The city had to temporarily pull all of its plows off the streets due to white conditions. They have since been redeployed, but officials are assessing conditions every 20 minutes.
Although officials are concerned about possible power outages in parts of the city, Fenty noted most power lines in the center-city are buried underground.
-- Tim Craig