McDonnell updates state’s response to winter storm
Gov. Bob McDonnell today updated the Commonwealth’s response to the recent winter storm that struck Virginia, and the impact the storm had on the state. The storm claimed three lives, two due to automobile accidents and one due to a falling tree. At its peak the storm cut electrical service to approximately 370,000 customers, but electric crews continue to make fast progress in restoration efforts with outages now down to less than 100,000 connections. Dominion Virginia Power estimates that 95 percent of its remaining outages will be restored by Friday evening at the latest.
Yesterday the governor declared a state of emergency as the storm hit Virginia, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in storm response. The storm dropped 20 inches of snow in Augusta, Rockingham, Warren and Nelson Counties, 18 inches in Page County, 17 inches in Madison County, and 15 inches in Albemarle County. Coastal flooding was observed in Accomack County near Chincoteague, and wind gusts of over 60 mph in Virginia Beach, and over 70 mph on Fisherman’s Island alongside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, were reported.
“This was a broad and powerful storm that dropped over a foot and a half of snow on areas in the northern Shenandoah Valley and caused wind gusts over 70 mph on the coastline,” McDonnell said. “Sadly, the storm took three lives in the Commonwealth, and even today several hundred thousand Virginians continue to await power restoration. As we all clean up from the storm, I want to thank Virginians for their efforts to help one another. Yet again we saw citizens come together to look out for each other, and ensure that we all weathered the storm well. I also want to thank the many individuals from local law enforcement, the State Police, the National Guard, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and from our private electricity providers like Dominion, Appalachian Power, and the local co-ops for their work throughout the storm to keep the lights on and get power restored to all those who had lost it.
“Just this morning I heard directly from General Long about National Guardsmen in Stanley who rescued a family of three when their car was stranded in 20 inches of snow. That’s the best of Virginia. We see it anytime there is a crisis or natural disaster. I continue to urge Virginians to look after each other, and to be careful tonight when re-freezing will lead to dangerous road conditions in many areas.”
· More than 100,000 customers are still without power as of 1 p.m., which is down from a peak of 233,000
· Three fatalities associated with the storm are confirmed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner: two in the northern region and one in the western region of the state.
· From midnight through 9 p.m. Wednesday, Virginia State Police fielded more than 3,118 calls for service, including responding to 659 traffic crashes and 571 disabled vehicles. The majority of crashes involved damaged vehicles only.
· More than 160 Virginia National Guard soldiers from the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were deployed in central and northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. The soldiers have completed their missions and are returning to their armories to be deactivated.
· VDOT has made significant progress on clearing the roads of snow. Some roads, especially in areas that received substantial snowfall, may continue to have patches of snow or ice on them.
Due to the heavy, wet nature of the snow storm, power companies expect that it will take several days to restore power. During that time citizens should follow these safety tips:
· Dress in layers to help keep body heat in and wear a hat.
· Avoid overexertion during clean up, no matter your age or physical condition. Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
· Use caution or seek professional assistance when removing fallen trees, cleaning up debris or using equipment such as chainsaws.
· Never touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet with snow/water unless you are certain that the power is off.
· Be extremely careful when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid contact.
· Generators should always be run outside, in well-ventilated areas. Get to fresh air immediately if you start to feel sick, weak or dizzy.
· Never use a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed space. Windows and doors do not provide enough ventilation.
· Kerosene and propane heaters can cause fires if left unsupervised. If you use one, use only the recommended fuel. Always refuel outdoors safely away from your home.
· Keep an eye on your heater at all times while it is running. Shut it off before you go to bed or when you leave the house.
· Perishable foods including meats, dairy product and eggs that have not been refrigerated for more than two hours should be discarded because they are no longer safe to eat.
· Be patient while waiting for roads to be cleared. The large amount of accumulation and the weight of the snow can mean major challenges in moving it.
· Before traveling, call 511 or visit www.511virginia.org to get current road condition information.
Keep up to Date on Power Outages
· Dominion customers can check this website to learn about power outage locations around the state:https://www.dom.com/storm-center/dominion-electric-outage-summary.jsp
· Virginians served by electric cooperatives can check their local cooperative’s website for outage information or, find their local cooperative by going to: http://www.vmdaec.com/MemberCoops.aspx
· If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.
· If you are seeking assistance for an elderly or disabled person, need information on local shelters or are concerned about an unsheltered individual or family, call 211 or visit www.211virginia.org.