Nightly News   |  February 11, 2010

D.C. digs its way out from under Blizzard '10

Washington D.C. started in on the big dig Thursday in the wake of the second giant snowstorm to hit the city in a week. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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>> condition.

>>> as our coverage continues, we report the ongoing troubles across a big part of the country. 50 million people from the southern plains up through the east coast have been affected by that second massive blizzard hit a lot of us took yesterday. once again, washington , d.c. , was the hardest hit. it's taking a very real human toll. nbc's tom costello there once again for us tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: hi, brian. the federal government remained closed today. most of the major roads are starting to open up, but neighborhoods are still buried under 20, 30, even 60 inches of snow. blue skies along the east coast today and a chance to dig out from historic amounts of snow. after two back-to-back storms, trees are down and many area side streets are still knee-deep in snow. a huge job for snowplow drivers. robert poole has been working 18-hour days and sleeping in his truck since the first storm hit last friday.

>> hardest part is watching power lines fall down in front of you. the snow is the easy part.

>> reporter: maryland has been hard hit with up to 60 inches of snow. dozens were rescued today after spending 36 hours stranded in their vehicles.

>> sleeping right in the middle of the road because the tractor trailers are broken down.

>> reporter: thousands more are still without power. this fire station caught fire after the roof collapsed, crushing a gasoline. no one was injured.

>> we again encourage motorists if at all possible to stay off 0 the roads. we encourage all our citizens to help one another.

>> reporter: in d.c. , the snow caved in porches, collapsed roofs, closed schools and malls and reft most residents stuck in place. where do you put all this snow? in d.c. the city has taken over this old parking lot and declared it snow mountain . millions of pounds of snow coming in on trucks at the rate of one every minute. it's also a budget-buster. washington has already spent at least three times the $6.5 million allocated for snow removal each year.

>> there is no piece of equipment. there is no man power. there is no resource we haven't availed ourselves of.

>> reporter: farther north in philadelphia it could take days to restore to 68,000 homes. d.c. and states along the east coast are expected to see federal disaster aid. the normal daily routine could take weeks to return, but through record-breaking "blizzarblit remained constant. guards at national cemetery never left their post. we are in for another one to three inches next week, brian.

>> it's getting almost unbelievable. tom costello in washington , d.c. , tonight. thanks.