Virginia working to improve preparations for severe weather following Interstate 95 report

In a two-page letter, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is pressing Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to take new precautions to prevent future backups during inc
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 2:17 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 2:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a two-page letter, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger is pressing Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to take new precautions to prevent future backups during inclement weather events.

“The idea that we could see 95 shut down for more than 24 hours also represents a security threat and a vulnerability I want to ensure we are getting past,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, (D) 7th District.

Thousands of drivers were left stranded on the interstate for more than 24 hours during a snowstorm in January. A report recently released by the state’s Inspector General found several agencies mishandled the event.

“She’s trying to do things to demonstrate maybe a connection to her new district. She can rest assure that we have paid full attention to a very good report,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin, (R) Virginia.

The report recommended several things moving forward, including more training and better communication within agencies and to the public.

The governor says planning started in early summer to improve the state’s snow response. That includes developing ways to deliver text messages to drivers while out on the road.

“Yes, the storm occurred before he arrived, but the lessons learned and our efforts to ensure it never happens again now falls on him and his team,” said Rep. Spanberger.

Youngkin was not yet in office at the time of the January event. His office points out the administration successfully managed a trio of snowstorms that happened after Youngkin became governor. But he adds that sometimes you can’t prepare for everything.

“I also have to recognize acts of God are acts of God, and so we can prepare as much as we want, but we also have to make a lot of important decisions at the time,” said Youngkin.

The governor’s office also says groups like VDOT, VDEM and Virginia State Police have all begun addressing findings from the report to be ready this winter.

You can find a copy of the letter HERE.

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter also said, “The Northam administration failed to adequately prepare and plan for the I-95 snow debacle. Governor Youngkin and the administration successfully weathered three snow-related events, mitigated risks, and ensured appropriate resources were available for our response teams and they performed well. The Governor appreciates the OSIG’s performance audit of the January 3-4, 2022 Northam Administration snow incident. Under the Governor’s leadership, snow events following his inauguration were managed to the standard of preparing for worst case scenarios as opposed to under preparing for snow emergency events.”