The City of Staunton is preparing for the potential effects of Hurricane Joaquin, now a Category 4 storm. The region is under a flash flood watch from Friday morning to Saturday evening, and two to three inches of rain are expected with higher amounts possible in some areas.
The City’s Public Works department has been preparing for the storm by inspecting and clearing storm drains, drop inlets, and ditches and checking generators and other essential materials. Storm equipment and personnel are on standby to respond to emergencies over the next several days, as are the City’s police and fire and rescue departments.
Information received by the City from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) today indicates that state officials are comparing the potential impact of Hurricane Joaquin to that of Hurricane Isabel, which affected all of Virginia in 2003. VDEM is urging the public to take the impending weather event seriously and prepare.
The City is encouraging residents who have had instances of water entering their homes or accumulating on their property to take early measures to prevent or divert water from entering or accumulating. Clearing gutters, downspouts and nearby storm drains can help reduce the chance of residential flooding.
Additional safety and preparedness tips:
- Stay at home. If your dwelling is safe, stay put during severe weather.
- If you must go out, be safe. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown. Do not drive or walk through moving water and avoid standing in or near creeks and streams. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily carry away your vehicle or knock you down.
- City crews are preparing for the potential effects of Hurricane Joaquin.
- Residents are encouraged to clear gutters, downspouts and nearby storm drains.
- In the event of severe weather, impassable roads, and downed trees and power lines should be reported by calling the Staunton Police Department’s dispatch line at 540.332.3842.
- Use common sense. If water is rising quickly, or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
- Sign up for Staunton Alert Messages (SAM), formerly called Everbridge. Get text or email alerts and warnings from the City of Staunton with SAM. Sign up here: bit.ly/1OaDT4N.
- Have a plan for emergencies. Visit www.ready.gov/plan-for-locations to get started, or download the free Ready Virginia app for iPhone and Android, which features a customizable emergency plan, a checklist for gathering emergency supplies and an “I’m Safe!” feature that allows you to quickly send a text message to let family and friends know you are safe.
- If you experience flooding, beware of hazards. Watch for potential problems with electrical panels, hot water heaters with pilot lights, sewer stoppages and other hazardous materials.
- Be prepared to evacuate. Prepare essential medical supplies, medications, and equipment for evacuation. Be sure batteries for essential medical equipment and devices are charged and have at least five to seven days of crucial medications on hand.
- If evacuated, wait until it’s safe to return home. Do not return to your home until local officials say it is safe. After floodwaters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse. Buildings might be unstable, and drinking water might be contaminated.
Know the weather terms and what to do in each scenario.
- Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: There is an increased possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will likely occur very soon. If emergency officials advise you to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately – don’t wait for official instructions.
Other resources for help and information:
- As always, if you experience an emergency, call 911.
- If you notice an impassable road due to high water or downed trees and power lines, call the Staunton Police Department’s dispatch line at 540.332.3842.
- If you need information, resources and assistance during or after the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 to connect to the Virginia Relay Center for assistance with the call. Videophone users may dial 1.800.230.6977.
Visit vaemergency.gov to get statewide storm updates.