Virginia Department of Emergency Management warns residents to be prepared for additional power outages

powerlinesLocal and state agencies continue to respond to the winter storm that began Friday morning and continues through Saturday. Northern and western Virginia experienced more than 20 inches of snowfall, and major roadways are covered by snow and ice.

Trees are reported down in many places in southwest Virginia, and power outages continue to rise. As of 9 a.m., more than 185,000 customers are without power. To restore power, crews may be working in teams of brush cutters, snowplow drivers and power company linesmen. The already cold temperatures are forecast to take a plunge throughout the day, creating more ice and additional widespread power outages.

“Everyone should stay at home and off the roads,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Keeping roads clear will help emergency responders get help to those who need it, and it will prevent additional car crashes.”

Residents should be prepared to be without power during very cold weather. Those with generators and heaters should use caution and follow basic safety tips, available at http://www.readyvirginia.gov/makeaplan/safety.cfm. Those who do not have an emergency source of heat, and who cannot stay with family or friends or at a hotel or motel, should dial 2-1-1 to get information about open shelters in their area or visit http://www.211Virginia.org.

Minor to moderate flooding is possible in the Hampton Roads area after yesterday’s heavy rains. Norfolk and other areas in Hampton Roads are experiencing street flooding along with rising tides. With higher tides expected this afternoon, people should be prepared to move immediately to higher ground. Stay alert to current conditions.

River flooding is possible in southern Virginia along the Dan River. According to the National Weather Service, runoff from snowmelt and rain that fell across the Dan River basin over the past 24 hours is causing a rapid rise on the river at South Boston. Residents in southern Virginia should stay alert to local conditions and know what to do during a flood. Ready Virginia flood safety information is available at http://www.readyvirginia.gov/stayinformed/floods.cfm.

State agency response efforts:

  • The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is coordinating preparations at the state level, assessing resources. VDEM continues to conduct conference calls among local governments, the National Weather Service and other state agencies.
  • Virginia Department of Transportation crews are fully mobilized and responding to roadway impacts.
  • In anticipation of shelter operations support requests, the Virginia Baptists are preparing to conduct feeding operations at shelters. In addition, food banks are moving supplies into position.
  • Since Friday, the Virginia State Police Virginia State Police have responded to 1,127 traffic crashes and 1,013 disabled vehicles. State Police Emergency Communications Centers have fielded 2,759 calls for service and another 2,278 calls for information during that same time period.
  • The Virginia Department of Forestry has several chainsaw crews on standby throughout the state to help with the restoration of critical infrastructure.
  • The Virginia National Guard has 530 personnel currently on duty and staged at locations throughout northern Virginia and the I-81 corridor. VNG teams will assist local fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services.
  • The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and local EMS. No issues have been reported.

Additional information
Current winter storm response information is available at http://www.vaemergency.com/. VDEM also has created a blog page to provide frequently updated information at http://februarywinterstorm.tumblr.com/.

Real-time road conditions are available at http://511Virginia.org.

General safety and preparedness information is available at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and in Spanish at www.ListoVirginia.gov.