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Watching Out for Hurricane Florence

posted Sep 11, 2018, 8:24 AM by Mary Lopez

RICHMOND—Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) teams have worked throughout the weekend preparing for what may be Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades. With Virginia under a state of emergency, and forecasts showing Florence zeroing in on the Mid-Atlantic, the time for all Virginians to prepare is now.

While it is too soon to know the exact track that Hurricane Florence will take, the majority of forecast models are indicating significant potential impacts to Virginia in the form of coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages.

Virginia emergency managers and first responders are already mobilizing to prepare for the storm. Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency late Saturday in order to mobilize personnel and resources for storm impacts, and to speed the response to those communities that are damaged by the storm. This includes resources from VDEM, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia National Guard and others.

All Virginians should expect potential impacts and life-threatening conditions from this storm. Now is the time to prepare—Make a Kit, Get and Plan, and Stay Informed. To learn more, visit www.VAEmergency.gov/hurricanes.

It’s Not the Winds, It’s the Water

The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds. Flooding is the deadliest result of these storms.

Current forecast models indicate that Florence could strike the Carolinas and enter Central Virginia, possibly stalling and dropping more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. This will lead to widespread and dangerous flooding, inundation of roads and damaged infrastructure. Potential widespread power outages are also expected.

Citizens should prepare for rising waters, flash flooding, and remember to never drive across flooded roadways. Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists try to cross flooded roads. Roads and bridges can be damaged or completely washed away beneath flood waters, and a few inches of water can sweep vehicles downstream. Remember, turn around, don’t drown.

Coastal Virginia Threats and Potential Evacuations

Some forecast models are indicating a possible strike more directly on the Hampton Roads region and Coastal Virginia. If this track becomes a reality, Coastal Virginians can expect significant flooding, damaging winds and storm surge flooding throughout the region. If the storm moves on a coastal track, it would require the Commonwealth to enact its tiered evacuation plan, commonly known as Know Your Zone.

Residents in Coastal Virginia, especially those in evacuation zones A and B, should begin preparing for potential evacuation. An evacuation decision will be made Monday, September 10. If ordered, instructions about evacuation will be communicated via social media, television, radio, newspapers, and through local and state emergency management websites.

Citizens should make necessary preparations now to evacuate to higher ground, starting with knowing in which zone your home and business are located. You can type in your address at www.KnowYourZoneVA.org to find out your designated zone. Resources are also available on the Know Your Zone website to learn more about the program, what to plan for and expect in the event of an evacuation, and how to ensure you are ready once you receive evacuation instructions.

Once you Know Your Zone, you should stay tuned to local media for detailed instructions from your local emergency manager about where to go, available shelters and evacuation routes, and when you will be able to return to your home.

Have questions about Know Your Zone? Learn more here.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late to Prepare

With the onset of tropical storm force winds and rain only a couple of days away, the time to prepare is now. Get your home, business and family ready for whatever impacts this storm may bring. Hurricane season lasts through November 30, so more storms may target Virginia this year.

Visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes to learn how to prepare for these deadly storms. It could save your life.

 

Additional Considerations:

  • Make sure that you have an old-fashioned land line phone available at home instead of only cordless phones that rely on power.  In recent times, because we all have cordless phones, most of us are without phone service because our phones are power dependent when actually, the phone lines are working and a phone plugged directly into the phone jack will work.
  • Before the storms hits, make sure your gas tank is full in case you have to evacuate, power outages keep the pumps from working, or hurricane damage in other areas prevents gas trucks from getting here.
  • Keep some cash in small bills on hand in case a power outage closes banks, keeps ATMs from working, or keeps card-readers unavailable at stores.
  • If you are storing water yourself, only store it in water storage containers or soda bottles, do not store it in empty milk or juice containers.  Even if you think you have cleaned a milk or juice container well, there will still be bacteria hiding in there that can make you sick.
  • Keep pets indoors with you during the storm and if you must evacuate take your pets with you.  If it isn’t safe for you to be there, it isn’t safe for your pets.
  • The right-front quadrant of the storm can carry unstable weather with it, as it passes through which means there will be a greater chance for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  Keep this in mind as we watch the track of the storm as it heads our way.
  • Never, ever use a generator inside – never, ever!
  • Do not cross flooded roadways, swollen creeks, or streams – it only takes inches of water to carry a vehicle away!

 

Resources:

Chip Stratton, ECO

Safety and Risk Management

Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center

Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Center

Office (540) 332-7163

Cell     (540) 241-3452

Fax     (540) 332-7982 

Chip.Stratton@wwrc.virginia.gov

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