'We gave warnings': Virginia governor casts blame on drivers who got stuck for hours on major highway

Governor Ralph Northam has put the blame squarely on motorists after a severe snowstorm left I-95 gridlocked

Tom Fenton
Wednesday 05 January 2022 21:52 GMT
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Virginia’s Governor has been heavily criticised for blaming thousands of drivers who were left stranded on Interstate 95, after heavy snowfall overwhelmed the state’s removal crews.

Democrat Ralph Northam, who has been the state’s governor since 2018, made the remarks during an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Snowstorms brought several highways in the US to a standstill earlier this week, with Virginia being especially badly hit. Governor Northam has been accused of failing to prepare the roads, as weather warnings had been issued in the days prior.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has also taken plenty of flack for not responding fast enough in the aftermath of the storm.

“We gave warnings, and people need to pay attention to these warnings, and the less people that are on the highways when these storms hit, the better,” Mr Northam told The Post (via Fox News).

Ralph Northam
Ralph Northam (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Father Joseph Catalano, who got stuck in the traffic after taking his family on a post-Christmas trip to Disney World, has been less than impressed with Mr Northam’s conduct so far.

“I’ve contacted the governor, he finally came out this morning and said he has shelters opening up. It’s a day late and a dollar short,” he bemoaned.

Sitting Democratic Senator, and 2016 Vice Presidential candidate, Tim Kaine was among those stranded in the snow on Tuesday. “After 27+ hours on the road from Richmond to DC, @timkaine is safely back in the Capitol. Still in good spirits!” the representative’s communications director tweeted out.

Northam also took to Twitter on Tuesday night to announce that all stranded drivers had been accounted for, but urged Virginians to stay off the roads as the situation remains “hazardous”.

However, Mr Northam also hasn’t accepted any responsibly for the I-95 debacle. This has predictably given plenty of ammunition to some of Mr Northam’s most vociferous critics in the Republican party.

“Ah yes, it’s the drivers’ fault his incompetent governance and lack of preparation from his VDOT led to people being stranded for more than 24 hours, including a US Senator, on a highway in freezing temps,” wrote Michele Perez Exner, an adviser to GOP Senator Tim Scott.

Conservative journalist Gabriella Hoffman was similarly scathing on Twitter: “Northam is victim blaming his constituents for driving on I-95? Ridiculous. Thank goodness he’s gone in 10 days.”

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