Update (5:45 p.m.): Virginia officials joined Gov. Bob McDonnell Friday afternoon to ensure Virginia residents that the state was preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy in a matter of days.
Representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation, Department of Emergency Management and Dominion Power were present for the update on the Commonwealth’s efforts to meet a storm that could down trees, create coastal flooding and bring widespread power outages to the area.
McDonnell said downed trees would be the most dangerous result of the storm. Downed trees caused outages and killed multiple people in Fairfax County during the June 2012 derecho.
“Most of the power outages and just about all of the fatalities of our previous significant weather events from this summer and last summer were due to downed trees,” McDonnell said.
He added that residents should try to not leave their houses during the height of the storm, which could be on Monday or Tuesday.
“We urge our citizens to please stay off the road,” he said. “Stay home.”
Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said resources were ready to be deployed on the ground in the event of a bad storm.
“This is not going to be a 24-hour event,” Cline said. “We’re going to have to deal with several days of ongoing events … So we want people to be prepared.”
In the event of power outages, McDonnell said Dominion had prioritized polling locations as priorities for electricity restoration. Cameron Quinn, chief elections officer for Fairfax County, said so far plans are for absentee voting to continue next week.
“At this point I don’t see anything that would interfere with an election,” McDonnell said.
“Undoubtedly, there will be some damage during this storm, and people have to use some good judgment and be good neighbors,” McDonnell said.
Residents can also call 2-1-1 for services or resources they need. For non-emergency transportation issues during the storm, residents should call 5-1-1.
Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Friday morning as Hurricane Sandy makes its way toward the Mid-Atlantic region.
Nicknamed “Frankenstorm,” the D.C. Metro area could see the effects of storm systems converging: an early winter storm from the west, arctic air from the north and the hurricane traveling up from the south, forecasters say.
“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,” McDonnell said in a statement. “In that scenario, saturated soil coupled with high winds could lead to major tree damage and extensive power outages.”
The storm could bring several inches of rain, as well as coastal flooding.
McDonnell urged Virginia residents to get ready as soon as possible for the effects of the storm.
“Now is the time for all Virginians to prepare for those possible power outages and disruptions to public services,” he said. “Virginians should make sure their family members, friends and neighbors are prepared for this extended weather event. 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.”