Emergency Unpreparedness Officials: The News Quiz

It is December, and there are freezing temperatures, sometimes with frozen water falling from the sky. And so 21st-century civilization keeps shuddering to a halt, over and over again. Can you match the public figure to this month’s expression of defeat, denial, and/or helplessness?

1. “The results were not what we’d like them to be, but it has not been for lack of effort.”

2. “I said that strategic roads and the rail network had coped reasonably well in the circumstances. That is my perception. They have coped reasonably well….Of course roads close with huge amounts of snowfall, but the question is how quickly they get reopened.”

3. “The scale of the situation is unprecedented.”

4. “Naturally, the situation is difficult, and not everything depends on us. But there is no sense in moaning—we all need to work at it.”

5. “If you take a look…in totality, we did a really good job.”

A. Liam Mulholland, head of customer service for Northern Ireland Water, on tens of thousands of people going without running water because of freezing and thawing pipes.

B. Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin on the breakdown of travel in his country due to an ice storm.

C. New Jersey state transportation commissioner Jim Simpson on the stranding of hundreds of vehicles on snowbound roadways and the interruption of public transit. 

D. Britain’s transport secretary, Philip Hammond, on the extent to which a moderately heavy snowfall immobilized the country.

E. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg on his city’s inability to plow the streets or keep trains running, despite a full day’s advance warning of the coming blizzard.  

(Answers: 1. E, 2. D, 3. A, 4. B, 5. C)