Like an uninvited house guest who swoops down before you’ve finished cleaning up from the last batch of boorish revelers, Hurricane Sandy is taking aim at the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, regions still cleaning up from the derecho that brought floods, downed trees and damaged roads and bridges last spring.
It all comes at the worst possible time. For one thing, there’s this little thing called an election that’s fast approaching, not to mention Halloween. Oh, and don’t forget, there’ll be a full moon just about the time Sandy comes crashing in, meaning tides will already be high.
In Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, most residents have finally removed all the dead trees, repaired the damage to homes and cars and perhaps bought a bigger and better generator. In coastal areas, seawalls have been rebuilt, beaches restored and bridges put back in order — just in time to go through it all again.
According to the National Weather Service, the most likely impact for Hurricane Sandy in the Fairfax area will be Sunday and Monday. While there is still uncertainty on the exact track of Hurricane Sandy, strong winds, coastal flooding, heavy rain and dangerous swells will be possible for areas along the coast of Virginia and Fairfax County. In addition, strong winds and locally heavy rainfall will be possible during this time along and east of Interstate 95.
Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency as emergency service coordinator are gearing up to handle the storm and its aftermath, but residents should plan for power outages, flooded streets and heavy wind damages. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova issued an appeal today for residents to sign up for weather alerts from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) – for the latest information on the storm and emergency services.
She also issued these pointers:
- We urge all of our Fairfax County residents to stay up to date on this storm as it has potential for heavy rains, winds and flooding.
- Ensure that you have adequate food and water on hand in the event power is lost or roads are closed due to downed trees.
- Don’t forget your pets, medications and others who may need special assistance.
- Ensure that you have a communications plan and that all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
- In these types of weather events, excessive rain will loosen tree root systems so a greater potential for downed trees can be expected.
- In the event you live in an area that is prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. In past events, there has been little warning once the water begins to rise.
- If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
- Make sure you have a stock of fresh batteries in case of power loss.
- Consider including a wind up radio among your emergency supplies.
- Rising water that threatens your safety, call 9-1-1
- Storm flooding during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), call 703-877-2800, TTY 711
- For after-hours storm flooding emergencies that are not life threatening, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498, and state that you are reporting a storm sewer emergency
- For sanitary sewer flooding, call 703-323-1211, TTY 703-239-8498
- If you have damp walls or floors, contact a water removal or restoration company
State of emergency
In his statement, Gov. McDonnell noted that while there is some uncertainty with the storm’s final track, all forecasts call for significant impacts to Virginia. Sandy will be transitioning to an extratropical storm as it reaches Virginia, leading to a broader wind field with a wider reach across the Commonwealth. In addition, current models predict a slower storm and therefore a longer duration event than usual.
Based on current forecasts, the eastern third of Virginia could experience tropical storm force winds for more than 48 hours, several inches of rain and coastal flooding. Even inland areas of Virginia could see strong winds and significant rainfall. There is a strong possibility of extensive power outages. Residents in the western and southwestern parts of the state could see some snowfall, and all areas of the Commonwealth will experience colder temperatures in the wake of Sandy, which, when coupled with anticipated power outages, could produce additional challenges for Virginians.
“We are issuing this state of emergency today as a precautionary measure in order to ensure that we are ready for any potential effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Commonwealth. Weather forecasters are predicting significant weather impacts across much of Virginia, and a long duration event,” McDonnell said. “Due to the track of this storm, and the fact that it will be a hurricane transitioning into a more nor’easter like system, we could see severe weather lasting for 48 hours or more in the state. In that scenario, saturated soil coupled with high winds could lead to major tree damage and extensive power outages.
“Now is the time for all Virginians to prepare for those possible power outages and disruptions to public services. In addition, forecasters predict falling temperatures during and behind this system, and in areas that suffer power outages this will lead to new challenges in the days after the storm departs. Virginians should make sure their family members, friends and neighbors are prepared for this storm. I encourage all Virginians to gather batteries, blankets, water, canned goods, and other necessities prior to the anticipated onset of storm conditions late Saturday and early Sunday.”
Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm. Citizens should listen to local TV and radio stations for instructions, such as an evacuation order for specific areas, details about evacuation routes and locations of evacuation shelters. If an evacuation is ordered for your area, take your emergency supplies with you, including all medications. For a list of suggested emergency supplies you should collect for your family, visit:http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit.
At this time, the Commonwealth does not plan to reverse lanes on Interstate 64, however a final decision on this matter will be reached this evening. Residents should review the evacuation routes for their area to determine the best route for their families. In the event that a mandatory evacuation is necessary in specific areas, citizens will be provided further instructions through local and state authorities.
A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.