As Northern Virginia prepares for whatever weather Hurricane Sandy will bring to the area, people in the Falls Church area are rushing to gas stations and supermarkets to make sure they have what they need.
Doris Simpkins, 68, of Falls Church, said she wouldn’t be without anything this time. During the Derecho in June, Simpkins didn’t have a lot of food and couldn’t cook it anyway because her electric stove was affected by a mass power outage. Saturday at the Giant Food on Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church, Simpkins loaded up on lunchmeat and juice.
“At least I won’t have to worry about cooking this time,” Simpkins said. “It was bad for that Derecho. I told myself then if this happened again, I would not be hung out to dry.”
Dubbed “Frankenstorm,” Hurricane Sandy is traveling north and could possibly dump heavy rain and winds on the region Sunday night. Falls Church residents said they did not want to be caught without essentials like flashlights, candles and food this time around. When the Derecho blew through Northern Virginia in late June, it left the region with downed trees and without power. Andrew Eastman, chief of the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, said this time everyone has time to prepare, unlike when the quick forming Derecho hit.
With a cart full of canned spaghetti, fruit and some snacks, Herman Valdez, of Falls Church, said he is ready for whatever. The ready-made meals and fruit could feed his family of five for a couple days, he said. After the Derecho, Valdez, 47, said he always keeps bottled water, flashlights and candles in the house.
“That was crazy when that storm hit us,” Valdez said. “I learned my lesson after that one.”
Firefighters from Arlington County Fire Department at Station 6, which also houses the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department, are monitoring the storm track to see where Hurricane Sandy may land. Capt. Greg Karl, spokesman for Arlington County firefighters, said everyone has been told to be ready. Karl said Arlington County firefighters at the station are responsible for the City of Falls Church.
“We’ll have a final preparation plan once we hear where the storm will hit and with how much force,” Karl said.
Eastman said his firefighters always have emergency plans in place for widespread storms and other disasters but no one was prepared for something like the Derecho. The best part about Hurricane Sandy, Eastman said, is they know it’s coming. For now, his firefighters are identifying resources, checking special equipment and scheduling more staff in the case the storm hits the area hard. Dunn Loring volunteer firefighters respond to emergencies in Tysons, McLean, Vienna, Merrifield and Falls Church.
“We’ve had emergency plans in place for many years,” Eastman said. “We just hone them after each mass event.”
Still Not Prepared?
Susan Finarelli, spokeswoman for the City of Falls Church, said people should:
- Buy extra water. One gallon of water per person (and pet) per day is recommended for drinking and sanitation.
- Buy an extra bag (or cans) of food for your pet.
- Withdraw some extra cash from your bank or ask for cash back at a grocery store so you can make purchases in case there are power outages.
- Review your infant and young children supplies essential to you as a parent or someone who may be taking care of a young child.
- Pickup an extra package or two of the most commonly used batteries in your home.
- Purchase extra over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or children's medications you frequently use.
- Clear leaves from storm drain
- Charge your cell phone, tablet, or laptop
- Sign up for the Falls Church Alert system, which sends text messages and/or email updates that will provide weather alerts and other critical information: Alert Falls Church
- Follow developments in the city on Facebook (facebook.com/CityofFallsChurchGovernment) or Twitter (twitter.com/FallsChurchInfo).