State of Emergency in VA After Friday Storm
Governor says citizens should prepare for a multi-day power restoration and recovery effort.
UPDATE - Sunday, 7 a.m.: For a full update of conditions, outages, water restrictions and more across Nothern Virginia on Sunday, see this story: 290,000 Still Without Power in Northern Virginia Sunday Morning.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) declared a state of emergency Saturday morning as Virginia prepares for what he says will be a "multi-day event with the potential for further problems."
At least 2.5 million people in the state lost power in the rare derecho storm, which ripped through the area with winds from 60 to 80 miles per hour around 10:30 p.m. last night. There were six fatalities - two in Fairfax County, the governor said. All were killed when trees fell on homes or cars.
"This is the largest non-hurricane power outage in Virginia history," McDonnell said. "It is the fifth-largest overall. That means it is going to be awhile before power is restored."
Compounding the recovery: no storm preparations (like the state and individuals would have in a hurricane) and out-of-state crews Virginia power companies could ordinarily count on are busy with efforts in their own states. The storm ran from Indiana to North Carolina on Friday.
The governor is urging people to work together - to help neighbors who may be without power, check on senior citizens and take it easy during cleanup as temperatures will near 100 degrees again Saturday.
"This is a dangerous sitution," McDonnell said. "Our biggest concern is the health and safety of our citizens. People should exercise great caution in this high heat."
In a state of emergency, the commonwealth can call up the National Guard. McDonnell says he has called 300 members to assist the Virginia Department of Transportation with traffic control.
Authorities can also put in place shelters. There is no word yet on the location of Northern Virginia shelters, but Patch will provide updates when that is available. Farifax County emergency management will also have that information on its website.
Rodney Blevins, Dominion Virginia Power vice president of electric distribution operations, said public health and safety facilities are the top priority for service returns. Nearly one million Dominion customers lost power Friday. About 200,000 have had power restored as of noon Saturday, he said.
Work will continue around the clock during the multi-day restoration effort, he said. For updated info, check here: https://www.dom.com/storm-center/index.jsp.
"With triple-digit temperatures and high humidity expected for the next several days, Dominion is urging all residents – especially the elderly and young children – to take precautions and seek relief at cooling shelters, public libraries or similar facilities if appropriate," he said.
"We will restore power as quickly and safely as possible in these challenging conditions."