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After Sandy: Arlington Enters 'Recovery Mode'

Early estimates indicate damage will be in the 'millions of dollars'

Arlington County has shifted to recovery mode following the massive Superstorm Sandy that swept the area this week, and preliminary estimates indicate damage will be in the millions of dollars.

All Arlington County government offices, libraries, courts, community centers and nature centers will reopen Wednesday for normal business operations.

All Arlington Public Schools will also open on time Wednesday.

"Parents are asked to be patient as buses may need to work around road closures in some parts of the county, causing delays on some routes," schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said in an email.

The federal government, too, reopens Wednesday, though employees will be allowed to use unscheduled leave or telework, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Metro reopened Tuesday afternoon. ART 51 and ART 41 began operating, too, part of the local bus system's "gradual" return to service. Delays are possible, according to the county.

"We're still in recovery mode, but we're starting to get back to normal," Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith said. "There are still people with power outages, though — so we're not completely there yet."

At about 1 a.m. today, nearly 6,000 customers in Arlington County were still without power, according to Dominion Virginia Power — down from about 18,500 customers at peak outages. Lubber Run Center was still in the dark late Tuesday.

Utility and county crews were out in full force Tuesday afternoon, as residents coped with downed trees and power lines. Arlington started the day Tuesday with 22 houses hit by fallen trees and about 40 roads blocked or partially blocked by trees or power lines.

"There's still work to be done," Smith said. "There's still trees and debris. People are going to be busy for many days to come."

(Click here for information on reporting downed trees.)

No injuries or fatalities were blamed on Sandy in Arlington, though a morning fire Tuesday did leave one dead.

A number of traffic signals remained without power Tuesday night. Motorists are reminded to treat such intersections as four-way stops.

As of Tuesday night, Arlington County had 24 dark signals, two flashing signals, three signals with "timing issues" and eight signals on generators, according to Smith. Crews were going to work on them into the night and again starting this morning.

Trash and recycling services resume Wednesday, along with brush and leaf collection. In-person absentee voting opened Tuesday afternoon and evening and should function under a normal schedule Wednesday.

Emergency operations have begun winding down. Overnight, the county's Emergency Operations Center operated virtually — with Smith and others with emergency support functions staying connected online. The EOC will be open today with a smaller crew, Smith said.

With the weather improving and milder, drier weather in the forecast, county damage assessment teams have begun surveying the damage left by Sandy.

"At this early stage, they expect damages will be in the millions of dollars," according to a county news release.

Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan declared a local emergency Sunday ahead of the storm. The Arlington County Board will hold a special meeting Thursday afternoon to affirm that declaration and attend to other matters, according to a legal notice.

"We hope that trick-or-treaters can do their planned walk-arounds," Smith said. "We want people to be safe out there, so we want parents to accompany them — and trick-or-treating can go on."

Jason Spencer October 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Arlington Public Schools announced this morning that Barcroft Elementary remained without power and would be closed today.

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