Today the residents of Washington, DC, were able to come out of their homes and to walk around their neighborhoods to assess the damage from Hurricane Irene. In a survey of every ward of the city, there instances were trees had fallen directly onto the homes of several residents.
A large tree fell on the home Ramona Velasquez of 732 Quincy Street, NW. Velasquez, works for the Marriot Hotel, was asleep when the giant tree came down on her home. “I was shaken awake and saw everything was broken. Mrs. Rosa said the emergency response was wonderful. She said it took 5 seconds for someone to respond to her call. The Hurricane Irene damage to the Velasquez home is a good example of bad things can to nice people. The crashing of the tree into her home was a random indication of the violence and destruction that came in the wake of the hurricane.
The scene of trees and power lines down was repeated again and again across the city. A Pepco truck worked beside the Howard Plaza Towers East building as workmen attempted to restore power lines. A power line lay on the ground in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Georgia Avenue and Barry Place, NW. Pepco alerted residents to avoid touching downed power lines. Call Pepco and report where the line has fallen. 32,000 customers in the city were without power.
Mayor Vincent Gray continued to travel throughout the city to meet with residents and to survey the damage. He was scheduled to make appearances at residences in Ward 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 before arriving promptly for a press conference at the Kennedy Recreation Center in NW at 4pm. Gray express relief that no residents of the District were killed in the storm.
The granddaughter of Mrs. Velasquez held her grandmother and expressed thanks that she was not killed in the crash. When asked about the people who said the storm was not that bad, the granddaughter looked at the giant tree that had collapsed her grandmother’s home and said, “People who say the storm was not that bad are greedy and selfish and they think only of themselves. Because they were not hurt or killed in the storm then they think it was not that bad. It was bad for the people who have lost their homes or are dead,” she said.
Mayor Gray said that he feels the actions he took to protect the citizens of the district were right. “You can never do too much to save human lives,” the mayor said. The major criticism was the closing of the Martin Luther King, Jr., dedication; however, with airports closed in major cities up and down the East Coast and with train and bus service cancelled, it was clear that the threat of injury or death in coming to the city in the midst of a hurricane was a risk the mayor would not take.
As the sun came out late Sunday afternoon, people who could not leave the city Saturday still made a pilgrimage to the King memorial. As Park Rangers directed traffic thousands of people still made the trip to see the memorial even though the official dedication will be postponed until late September or October. The ground was still wet and soggy in places at the King Memorial. The bright sunshine made it hard to believe the harsh winds and heavy rains that covered the memorial 24 hours earlier. Dr. King’s statute majestically towered over the crowd as if to say the storm had passed and all was well for now.