Governor McDonnell Updates Virginia's Recovery from Hurricane Sandy
– Storm Largely Spares Commonwealth; 114,000 Customers Still Without Power, Mostly in Northern Virginia –
RICHMOND - During an afternoon press conference in Richmond, Governor Bob McDonnell updated Virginia's continued recovery from the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. The large storm began affecting portions of the Commonwealth late Saturday, and snow and rain associated with the system continue in parts of the state. During the storm, winds gusted to 60mph in both Roanoke and Arlington and to 68 mph at Wallops Island, nearly 10 inches of rain was recorded in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach and on the Northern Neck, and 8.5 inches of snow fell in Tazewell, with reports of higher amounts in many elevated areas of western and southwestern Virginia. In addition, high water led to the National Guard transporting citizens to shelters on the Eastern Shore. Sadly, the storm was responsible for two fatalities in Central Virginia.
Despite those figures, Sandy's impact in the Commonwealth was far less than originally anticipated. As of 1pm today, power outages are down to 114,000 customers statewide, which is a much smaller number than expected. Most regions of the Commonwealth, outside of mountain areas experiencing lingering snow, will see weather conditions quickly returning to normal over the days ahead. Based on current conditions and what is anticipated for the aftermath of the storm, the Commonwealth is in a position to offer assistance to states that suffered far more damage. Today, Governor McDonnell spoke with President Obama to offer Virginia resources to ongoing recovery efforts in New Jersey, New York and other states. He has also personally communicated that offer to Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey and Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York. In addition, offers of assistance have been made to Connecticut and Delaware.
Speaking about the now-ending storm in the Commonwealth, Governor McDonnell remarked, "I sincerely appreciate the cooperation we have seen from Virginians in every part of the state as we have gone through this severe weather event. Sandy was not as bad as we expected, but we still faced high winds, heavy rain and snow, and flooding. Virginians worked together to get through this storm, and looked out for one another. I thank our citizens for their efforts and their incredible generosity of spirit. I also want to, once again, thank our first responders, state agencies, local governments, private partners and volunteers for the tremendous work they have done. There is still clean up to be done and we need to get power restored to the over 110,000 customers without it. We will get that done. Virginia stands ready to help other states as they recover from a far more serious and destructive storm within their borders."
Federal Disaster Declaration
Governor McDonnell requested and Virginia has been awarded a federal disaster declaration to support emergency response efforts. Specifically, FEMA is authorized to deploy federal resources if needed by local and state officials. Virginia may request federal Public Assistance after damage assessments are compiled. It is too early to know if Virginia would qualify for federal Individual Assistance.
Two storm-related traffic fatalities have been confirmed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The deaths occurred in the central region of the state. No other storm-related deaths have been reported.
At 1 p.m., reported power outages were at 114,000 statewide. Virginia Dominion Power expects all power to be restored by Thursday night.
Extensions for State Permits, Fees and Licenses
Governor McDonnell signed Executive Order No. 53: Declaration of a State of Emergency for the Commonwealth of Virginia Due to the Threat of Hurricane Sandy Impacting Virginia. Included in the Executive Order is a request that the Department of Motor Vehicles and other executive branch agencies, as deemed appropriate in their discretion, waive any late fees associated with October registrations, licenses, permits, or credential renewals that are submitted on or before November 9, 2012. You can download the entire Executive order here.
Current Travel Conditions
More than 280 roads, mostly secondary roads, are closed due to flooding and downed trees in northern Virginia, northern Shenandoah Valley, and the Eastern Shore.
Interstate routes in southwestern Virginia have scattered snow and ice patches. Many primary and secondary roads in southwest Virginia are snow covered or have snow and ice patches.
In northern Virginia, about 100 signals are not functioning. Drivers should treat these intersections as four-way stops. HOV restrictions have been lifted on interstates 66, 95, 395 and the Dulles Toll Road.
In Hampton Roads, all tunnels, water crossings, interstate highways and primary roads are open in most areas. Two severely impacted areas include Accomack and Northampton counties. In these areas, several secondary roads remain closed due to storm surge flooding and downed trees.
HOV restrictions are lifted in Northern Virginia
DC Metro services: Metrorail service restoration began at 2 p.m. On all lines, trains will operate at Sunday service intervals until closing.
Metrobus: Service restoration began at 2 p.m. Buses will operate on a Sunday schedule on Tuesday. Certain bus routes that do not operate on Sundays will resume service on a weekday schedule.
The State Board of Elections has asked local electoral boards in localities impacted by Hurricane Sandy to extend absentee voting hours over the course of the remaining absentee period that ends on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Please check local general registrar offices' websites or call ahead to determine the hours of operations in specific localities. You may also visit the State Board of Elections Facebook page for updated information at http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaStateBoardOfElections
To be eligible to vote absentee, it is necessary to be registered to vote and meet one of the 19 qualifying absentee reasons. Please remember to bring an acceptable form of identification to the voter registration office if planning to vote absentee.
How to Help
The Governor encourages Virginians wishing to help out in this difficult time to consider a donation to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund (VDRF) or the American Red Cross Disaster Fund (ARCF). All money donated assists Virginians who are affected by disasters. For more about these two disaster funds, visit:
9 shelters and 4 heating shelters are open in 13 localities with 122 people. The best source for local shelter information is local government officials and local media reports. As of 10 a.m., these localities have open shelters:
New Kent County
Tazewell County - 4 Heating Shelters (No overnight accommodations, shelters are for relief from the cold.)
Virginia Rescue Efforts
Virginia State Police - state troopers and dispatchers have fielded 5,098 calls for service as a result of the high winds, heavy rains, and snowfall associated with the Hurricane Sandy storm system. Statewide between 12:01 a.m. Sunday (Oct. 28, 2012) and 10 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 30, 2012), Virginia troopers responded to 583 traffic crashes and 690 disabled vehicles. The majority of the storm-related crashes occurred in the Hampton Roads, Tidewater, Southside, and Northern Virginia regions. At the height of the storm Monday, state police were fielding 155 calls for service per hour.
Virginia National Guard - Approximately 630 Virginia National Guard personnel are staged on the Eastern Shore, in Hampton Roads, along the Interstate 95 corridor from Richmond to northern Virginia, and along the I-81/I-66 corridor from Woodstock to Leesburg ready to assist with high water transport, debris reduction and reconnaissance patrols. Some of their accomplishments include:
- In Winchester, VNG assisted Virginia State Police with clearing a large tree blocking access to a VSP fueling station
- In Norfolk, VNG provided high water transport to assist local firefighters transporting a citizen to shelter.
- In Onancock, VNG conducted multiple missions to transport 14 citizens to shelters and transported six firefighters.
Virginia Department of Health issued an emergency closure of shellfish harvesting areas in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay and west of and including the Virginia Inside Passage of the Eastern Shore due to tidal flooding and excessive rainfall. Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation's home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/Shellfish/. The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.
For Additional Questions and More Post-Storm Information
2-1-1 Virginia is serving as the public inquiry number for Virginia residents.
5-1-1 - Call toll-free for the latest in road conditions and closures; or visit www.511virginia.org
People can use VDOT's Customer Service Center hotline to report road issues such as debris in the road and potholes: 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623).
Dial #77 on a cell phone to report a traffic crash or traffic emergency.
Residents should call their locality's non-emergency number for updated storm-related and shelter information. Call 9-1-1 only in a true emergency.
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