In a statement released today, Governor Bob McDonnell said that Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Sandy, expected make landfall in Virginia over the weekend and early next week. The warning came as the governor declared a preemptive state of emergency.
“We are issuing this state of emergency today as a precautionary measure in order to ensure that we are ready for any potential effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Commonwealth,” McDonnell said.
A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The governor’s emergency declaration is meant to ensure a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.
There is some uncertainty with the storm’s final track, but all forecasts call for significant impacts to Virginia.
Sandy is expected to transition to an extratropical storm as it reaches Virginia, leading to a broader wind field with a wider reach across the Commonwealth. In addition, current models predict a slower storm and therefore a longer duration event than usual.
Based on current forecasts, the eastern third of Virginia could experience tropical storm force winds for more than 48 hours, along with several inches of rain and coastal flooding.
“In that scenario, saturated soil coupled with high winds could lead to major tree damage and extensive power outages,” McDonnell said.
State agencies are preparing for Sandy in the following ways:
The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Emergency Response Team;
The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing available 24 hours a day;
Virginia State Police personnel have been placed on stand-by and will be pre-positioned to the areas where they will be needed based on the final projected path of the hurricane. The Virginia State Police Swift Water Rescue Team is standing by in strategic locations;
Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are standing by with emergency response personnel and to help with debris removal;
Virginia Department of Transportation crews are ready to clear roads and ensure roads are safe for travel;
The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty and begin prepositioning resources;
The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure that they are prepared for storm impacts.
For general information about the storm, dial 211.