RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — 8News has confirmed that an outside firm will perform a multi-agency after-action review of Virginia’s response to the Jan. 3 snowstorm that left hundreds of drivers stranded on Interstate 95 for hours.
Emily Wade, assistant director of communications at the Virginia Department of Transportation, confirmed to 8News that CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis group based in Arlington, will perform the review.
According to Wade, the cost of the review to taxpayers will be $79,427. CNA has an existing contract with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Both VDOT and CNA say the timeline to complete the after-action review is expected to be 6-8 weeks. Wade told 8News, “The report will be used to identify lessons learned during the Jan. 3-4 snow event and ways to improve our response and procedures with future events.”
8News asked Governor Glenn Youngkin about the outside review. He said, “Well, first of all, we’ve had three snow emergencies since I’ve been governor and I am extremely proud of how we have managed those.”
The Governor dodged our question about the cost of the review to Virginians but he added this: “I will tell you right now with three states of emergencies that we’ve had to deal with, and I think the teams have done a great job. Virginians should rest assured that we’re on the job.”
The 95 mess did happen under Governor Ralph Northam’s watch, and the Virginia Department of Transportation’s response to the winter storm that shut down I-95 has been widely criticized. Drivers reported sitting in their cars for hours. Some were stuck without food or water and running low on fuel. Some drivers were stranded for as many as 27 hours.
Just a day after the disaster, U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger called on then Governor Northam and incoming Governor Youngkin for an after-action report. Friday morning she sent a letter to Gov. Youngkin asking why a month later.
“Virginians still have no answers about how such a crisis can be prevented during future storms,” she said. “I know that there must be a lot on their plate as they come into office but my priority in sending this was ensuring that this wasn’t something that fell off the do-list.”
After learning of the outside review she told 8News, “I am pleased that the Youngkin administration is moving forward, that there will be an after action report. It is so important that the public have some answers.”