RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia remains under a State of Emergency as the remnants of Ian bring rainfall, flooding and wind. For state agencies, storm preparation is shifting to response.
As of Friday afternoon, some of the most significant impacts were seen in the Hampton Roads area. These photos show flooding in Norfolk.
“I think flooding with Ian is going to be the biggest concern that we have throughout the commonwealth. We have been really focusing on the areas of Hampton Roads and Tidewater, as well as Southwest Virginia,” said Jason Elmore, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Emergency Managment.
At the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Chesterfield, more than two dozen state and federal officials met on Friday to get ready for more severe impacts expected this weekend. The EOC is the main hub where the state monitors weather conditions and makes decisions on where to send resources.
Elmore said that team will double in size by Saturday morning, when the EOC fully activates with representatives from various state agencies.
“It helps us to all be in one location so that we can have our planning and our strategic meetings about how we’re going to handle the situation that’s going on around the commonwealth,” Elmore said.
Elmore said local updates on flooding and damage come in multiple times a day. So far, no requests for state assistance have come in.
The Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent a team from Pennsylvania to provide backup.
“Disasters start and end locally so we’re really here to support the commonwealth if there are any needs that might come about from the local municipalities that might require federal support through a declaration process,” said Jason Burroughs, a FEMA Region 3 team leader.
Meanwhile, the Virginia National Guard has staged approximately 60 soldiers and airmen at key locations around Abingdon, Roanoke, Richmond and Virginia Beach for possible severe weather response operations. Personnel are prepared for high water transportation and debris clearing.
“The key to rapid response is staging personnel and equipment at key locations before the severe weather hits,” explained Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, VNG Director of the Joint Staff. “Our Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force personnel quickly left a their loved ones and their jobs on very short notice to assist their fellow Virginians in times of need, and we extend a special thanks to their families and employers for their continued support.”
On Friday morning, Virginia State Police Search & Recovery Team divers were standing by in Southwest Virginia and in the coastal regions of the state, preparing to respond to any swift water rescue emergencies.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is urging drivers to pay close attention to local weather reports and limit travel based on conditions. VDOT said severe weather could result in downed trees, power lines and other debris, as well as flooding that will make roadways “extremely hazardous or impassable.”
VDOT crews have been inspecting and cleaning drains in preparation for the storm’s arrival. The agency is monitoring wind speeds and staff are on standby to clear road hazards.
VDOT has the following recommendations for drivers:
- Obey all “road closed” signage.
- “Turn around, don’t drown” – Do not attempt to travel through flooded roadways. According to the CDC, the primary causes of flood-related deaths occur to individuals driving into or walking in or near flood waters.
- Be alert to debris, downed trees and power lines, as well as road crews that may be attempting to clear roadways.
- Be alert to High Wind Advisories, especially on bridges or taller structures. High-profile vehicles such as tractor trailers, SUVs or box trucks are especially vulnerable and should not cross a bridge when a High Wind Advisory is posted.
Prior to travel, the public should check road conditions by calling 511, visiting www.511Virginia.org or checking the 511 Virginia mobile app.