Senate Committees to Hold Public Hearing on State’s Storm Response

Harrisburg – The Senate Transportation Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a joint public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 22, to examine the state’s response to the recent storm, which closed I-78, I-80 and I-81. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building.

The situation on I-78, where thousands of motorists were stranded in sub-freezing temperatures – some for nearly 24 hours – is expected to receive the most attention at the hearing. Members of the Senate not on the committees but representing impacted areas will also be invited to participate.

PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director James R. Joseph have all been asked to testify. Others may also be asked to testify.

On Thursday, Gov. Rendell’s spokeswoman said the governor was satisfied with the state’s response and that “Mother Nature is the only one to blame.” After a large public outcry, the governor’s viewpoint changed and he said today that the situation was “unacceptable” and blamed it on an “almost total breakdown in communication” among state agencies. Gov. Rendell has called for an investigation into what happened; the Senate chairmen believe that a public hearing is the best way to advance that process.

“We need to understand what happened so that future storms can be handled better,” said Sen. Roger Madigan (R-Bradford), chairman of the Transportation Committee.

“If Pennsylvania was not ready to respond to this snow emergency, it raises serious questions about our ability to respond to other emergencies,” said Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), chairman of the Emergency Preparedness Committee.

The senators also announced the creation of a special email address, Anyone impacted by the incident is encouraged to email their comments to Those submitting comments are asked to include their name, address and phone number.

 Contact:Lee Ann Labecki
(717) 787-7428
Craig Shuey
(717) 787-3280

Back to Top