Snow White House

Some forecasts call for heavy snow in the District. (AFRO File Photo)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and her team of city officials have put programs in place for District residents to effectively deal with the upcoming snow season. One program is especially geared to residents who are elderly or disabled in Wards 4, 7, and 8., a website dedicated to the weather, predicted that snowfall in the Washington region would be 19.5 inches this winter as opposed to 18.3 inches last winter.

However, Bowser said that her administration is ready for whatever “Mother Nature” has in store for the District in the colder months, starting with an Oct. 23 announcement of her snow and ice removal program and dry run exercise at the Farragut Salt Dome in Northeast D.C.

“With winter around the corner, the dry run gives us a chance to plan, prepare, and practice for snow events,” the mayor said. “We’ve taken a close look at previous snow seasons and improved on them. This year, we are deploying more resources earlier and re-launching the Resident Snow Team to recruit volunteers to help elderly citizens and disabled residents clear snow.”

The snow and ice removal program features 15 additional rented plows, 14 new heavy plow trucks for larger streets and six new light plows for smaller, residential streets, 2,000 tons of salt held in reserve above the city’s 39,000 capacity and new technology to track the plows and new traffic cameras to monitor progress.

D.C. Public Works Acting Director Christopher Shorter said that the snow team began preparing for winter weather this past spring. “We evaluated last snow season’s operations as part of our continuous improvement effort,” he said. “Our plow drivers and other staff participated in training exercises to hone their skills, and that brings us to today when everyone participates in a simulated snow event.”

The mayor also encouraged residents to volunteer for the Resident Snow Team, which is a ?.

“For many of us, the snow is an inconvenience,” Bowser said. “But for the elderly and disabled, snow can mean that residents are unable to leave their house, even during a minor event. We have launched an effort to recruit 2,500 volunteers for the Resident Snow Team and together, we will ensure that the District is safe and open for business as soon as possible during a snow event.”

Janis Hazel is the communications director for Serve DC, an agency that handles volunteer activity on behalf of the city and is coordinating the snow team effort. In an interview with the AFRO, she emphasized Bowser’s point about snow events affecting the lives of some residents.

Hazel said appointed snow volunteers for a particular neighborhood will monitor residents who are in need of service because of the weather. Technology will be maintained by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) and will use geo-mapping and geo-coding to send volunteers addresses where residents are in need. “We want to make sure that the volunteers don’t have to go far,” Hazel said. “For each volunteer, there is a one-mile limit as to how far they can travel to assist a resident.”

Hazel said that while the program is citywide, there will be an emphasis on Wards 4, 7, and 8, the jurisdictions where seniors tend live in their own homes as opposed to apartment or condo buildings. She said training is taking place and organizations like the DuPont Circle-based Snowball Fight Association, student-athletes at George Washington University, and undergraduate chapters of the NAACP are among those who have agreed to participate in the resident snow team.

Sandra Seegars, a community activist in Ward 8, thinks the mayor’s snow team is a solid idea, but has some concerns. “As far as the volunteers are concerned, who are they?” Seegars said. “We don’t want criminals taking advantage of seniors. Plus, the city needs to work out what happens if property is damaged when the volunteers are shoveling snow?”

Nevertheless, Seegars said Bowser’s snow team is a good thing that helps those who need assistance during the winter the most.