Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Virginians need to finalize their preparations for Hurricane Sandy “right now." State officials also advised to not underestimate the lasting effect that the storm could have on the region.
McDonnell echoed the remarks he made yesterday, advising Virginians to prepare for extended power outages and colder temperatures after the storm passes by getting blankets out of storage.
“Outer bands of the storm have been in Hampton Roads for 24 hours,” McDonnell said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. “Stay tuned to local news and monitor for conditions. If you lose power, please know where your shelters are."
“If you lose power, don’t use candles and remember generators should be kept outside. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer,” said McDonnell on the news call. “Make sure you keep your refrigerator and freezer closed. We ask people to continue to work together."
State agencies said that the storm models they have been planning for since Friday are still in effect, McDonnell said, adding to expect heavy wind and rain and moderate to severe flooding.
McDonnell said the latest 2 p.m. National Weather Service update called for the Interstate 95 corridor to see up to see 6 inches of rain and sustained winds of 30 mph, and gusts of 35-55 miles per hour.
McDonnell said that the Northern Virginia area could expect “48 hours plus of rain and heavy winds.”
“The problem that we face is downed trees, power lines and tidal flooding,” McDonnell said. “This is going to be a long haul. People are going to have to be patient. Be a good neighbor.”
State, federal offices will decide closures today
McDonnell said President Obama advised that by 5 p.m. today the federal government will make a decision if the government offices will be open or closed tomorrow.
McDonnell said the state will make a decision soon thereafter about state offices.
Dominion calls in extra crews
McDonnell said Dominion Virginia Power has commitments for over 2,000 employees from other companies from other states to come in and assist Virginia with what is expected to be extensive power outages.
Rodney Blevins, vice president of Dominion Distribution Operations, said that customers in the Hampton Roads area were already experiencing power outages from the early effects of Sandy.
“We certainly expect the weather conditions to deteriorate,” Blevins said. "Additional crews will receive training on safety procedures and we will continue to pursue getting more."
Blevins stressed having the Dominion phone number and website handy in case you need to report an outage.
Dominion's phone number is 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357 To report outages online visit: www.dom.com.
State agencies prepared for storm
“Limit your travel on the roadways until this weather has passed,” Greg Whirley, commissioner of highways said. “We don’t want you out there in the conditions that could be coming up. You can expect that there can be flooding.”
Whirley said traffic conditions can be checked via telephone by dialing 511.
McDonnell said to also dial 211 which will provide storm-related information as well as visiting http://www.vaemergency.gov/ on a computer or smartphone, as power allows.
Virginia State Police has "significantly beefed up their personnel" McDonnell said. McDonnell said every trooper in the state is on standby and the state police swift water rescue team is on standby for areas of high water.
“This is a unique event, we really don’t know what the impacts are going to be. Four days of high winds and heavy rain,” said Michael Cline, State Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “This is going to be very different from a hurricane. People need to be prepared for changing situations and changing impact of the storm."