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Two Years Ago: Waking Up in the Aftermath of the Derecho Storm

Posted 11:48 a.m.

Two years ago today, many of us woke up to no power, spotty cellphone service, 9-1-1 problems, downed trees and a host of other complications as the result of a derecho storm.

broken power line

Broken power lines in Fairfax County as a result of the derecho storm in 2012.

We continue to talk about the derecho storm two years later as it impacted many aspects of our emergency preparedness and response efforts. And we continue to conduct exercise drills so we’re better prepared:

We are preparing for the next weather event or emergency:

What preparations have you made?

We Need Everyone to Prepare

During widespread events such as the derecho, the government alone can’t respond immediately to long power outages, downed trees, hurricanes or people stuck in transit, especially across a county that’s 400 square miles.

To help, we’ve developed 30 easy ways for you to prepare, including:

  • Having cash and medicine on hand
  • Determining how much water you need
  • Two ways to get out of your home, workplace or faith community
  • Digital preparedness

Digital Preparedness

Digital preparedness is increasingly important and after the derecho, power and cell service were interrupted. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management created this quick visual to help us think about digital preparedness:

digital preparedness tips

Our new Fairfax Alerts system is now available, too. Please sign up for this new system so you can be informed of weather alerts and other critical information.

A Word About 9-1-1

One of the major impacts from the derecho was the inability to call 9-1-1. In this video, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova discusses some of the changes made with Verizon, the region’s 9-1-1 carrier.

Storm Causes Downed Trees and Power Outages in Belle Haven/New Alexandria Overnight

Posted at 11:20 a.m. /Updated 3:03 p.m.

Storm Causes Downed Trees and Power Outages in Belle Haven/New Alexandria Overnight

Last night’s storm caused a significant number of downed trees and power outages in the Belle Haven/New Alexandria area. Public safety, emergency management and public works personnel are in the area responding. Please use caution in the area.

Downed-Trees-6-18-14

If you have a power outage, call Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; or Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) at 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711 depending on who provides your electrical service.

Other important emergency numbers can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/emergency-phone-numbers.htm.

Small Business Preparedness

Posted at 1:45 p.m.

small business preparedness

An Ad Council survey reported that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ about half of all private sector employees.
  • Have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

All businesses should have an emergency plan, including small businesses! A successful business emergency plan includes emergency contact information, essential business functions, an alternate location and probable delegations of authority in the event of a disaster.

Here are some great resources to create your business emergency plan:

  • ReadyNOVA provides a free template to create a business emergency plan and will guide you step-by-step through the process.
  • The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free, self-guided program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a 123 point self-assessment of their level of preparedness and have access to tools, tips and best practices to help improve their level of preparedness. The 123 point assessment has been aligned with the federal government’s Private Sector Preparedness standards (PS-Prep).
  • Free business continuity planning software provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is scalable for any organization to create a business continuity plan. It can be used to maintain normal operations and provide resilience during a disruption.

Have questions or want a business presentation? Contact our Office of Emergency Management for more info by phone at 571-350-1000, TTY 711; or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Things to Know for the Weekend

Posted at 4:14 p.m.

As we continue to dig out of the recent winter storm, more snow is possible. The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for snow tonight and Saturday morning, with cold temperatures dropping Saturday night to around 19 degrees.

Here are some things to keep in mind this holiday weekend:

1.) VDOT Snow Removal: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads.

2.) Help Neighbors: Please check in with your neighbors to make sure they have supplies and to help them shovel out driveways, cars and sidewalks.

3.) Exercise Caution: Shoveling snow can be physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains and heart attacks.

4.) Beware of Ice: With the cold temperatures, snow that has melted will refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice. Drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.

5.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

6.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets. As the temperatures drop, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

7.) Fire Hydrants: As streets continue to be plowed and snow is displaced onto sidewalks and roadsides, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants.

8.) Fill Your Car: Keep the gas tank filled. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

9.) For additional updates throughout the winter season, follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty. For more resources, visit our winter weather page.

Today’s Storm Impacts: What You Need to Know

Posted 5:15 p.m.

Strong storms passed through our area this afternoon impacting some of you in different ways. More storms are predicted tonight:

Power Outages

As of this time, 11,000 customers are without power. If your power is out, call your provider and report it.

  • Dominion Virginia Power: 1-866-366-4357, TTY 711;
  • NOVEC: 1-888-335-0500, TTY 711

If you’re driving and come across a traffic light that is out, be patient and treat it as a four-way stop.

Downed Trees

We’re seeing some reports of downed trees in our community. Visit this page to learn who to call about a downed tree.

Potential Flooding

At this time (5:15 p.m.), rain and discharge gauges indicate that we will experience significant street flooding at Huntington as a result of today’s thunderstorms. Residents should move their vehicles from the low areas along Fenwick Drive and Arlington Terrace to higher ground.

Forecast

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then a slight chance of showers between midnight and 2 a.m. Some of the storms could be severe. The chance of precipitation is 30 percent with new rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

All Watches and Warnings Cancelled

Posted 4:55 p.m.

All watches and warnings have been cancelled for our area as the strong line of storms has passed. Wind gusts may still reach 30-40 mph tonight. The McLean area appears to have experienced the worst of the storm, so you may see more debris and outages in that area.

There are a few thousand people without power. If you’ve lost power or see downed wires, call your power company. Do not touch any downed wires.

  • Dominion Virginia Power 1-866-366-4357, TTY 711
  • NOVEC 1-888-335-0500, TTY 711

Here’s who to call if you see any downed trees.

 

8 Ways You Can Help With Snow Removal

Posted 2:15 p.m.

snow shovelingRoad snow removal is led by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

But what about sidewalks and other areas around your home or business?

The state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe (homeowner associations may require members of their communities to clear walkways near their property). You should, as soon as possible, clear snow off the sidewalks in front of your property so that all pedestrians, especially school children, people with disabilities and the elderly, may walk securely as conditions improve.

Eight ways you can help:

1. Start a neighborhood team to help shovel snow for elderly and those unable to shovel. And please be aware of the risks for people with heart conditions.

2. Residents and businesses should ensure all accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities are cleared of snow and ice.

3. Don’t put trash cans and recycling bins out until after the plows have come.

4. If possible, remove parked cars from the road. Navigating around objects severely hampers a plow or heavy equipment driver’s ability to clear the roads and costs valuable time.

5. Clear snow away from fire hydrants in your neighborhood. Ask neighbors to adopt a fire hydrant and clear snow and ice away from all hydrants so that they are easily visible in the event of a fire.

6. Shovel snow into the yard instead of into the street to minimize the problem of the snowplow covering your driveway with snow after you’ve just shoveled it.

7. Keep the openings of storm drains clear of snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. (At no time, however, should a resident attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.)

8. Volunteer to use or lend equipment such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort.

Document Damage from Hurricane Sandy for Potential Disaster Assistance

Posted 2:10 p.m.

damage-databaseDid your property suffer damage from Hurricane Sandy?

Then please visit our Disaster Damage Database and complete the form to officially document damage. We may share the disaster damage reports with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and/or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to evaluate what kind of federal disaster assistance could be made available to county residents who have suffered losses.

NOTE: Submission of disaster damages is not a requirement to apply for federal disaster assistance nor is it a promise that federal disaster assistance will be provided to cover damages from the hurricane, or any other disaster event when the online tool is used.

For more information about the Disaster Damage Database, emergency management or how you and your family can better prepare for emergencies, email the Office of Emergency Management or call 571-350-1000, TTY 711.

County Trash Collection Update

Posted 1:54 p.m.

trash collectionResidents in sanitary districts receiving trash and recycling collection service on Tuesdays from Fairfax County will be served on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Residents on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday routes will receive trash and recycling collection service as normally scheduled. Please have trash and recycling containers to the curb by 6 a.m. on your collection day to ensure collection.

We anticipate there may be some delays in yard waste collection due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We will have crews working through the week and into the weekend (if necessary) to ensure that the material is collected. These delays will not affect the collection of trash and recycling.

Questions related to the county’s trash and recycling collection service within established sanitary districts may be directed to the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-802-3322, TTY 711. Residents receiving trash and recycling collection service from private service providers should contact them directly for information related to any collection schedule changes.

Debris Removal and Cleanup Options for Hurricane Sandy

Posted 12:02 p.m.

Cleanup from Hurricane Sandy is underway in our neighborhoods and communities. There are several options available for managing debris generated from this storm:

  1. All refuse collection companies operating in Fairfax County must collect brush placed at their customers’ curbsides as long as the brush is in bundles ofless than 4 feet in length, weighing less than 50 pounds and no piece is larger than 6 inches in diameter.
  2. For larger amounts of brush or bulk debris, you should contact your trash collection service provider for information about special collections and set-out instructions.
  3. You may also self-haul large amounts of brush or bulk debris to the county’s recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex where it can be disposed of for a fee. The fee structure for brush and tree debris from Hurricane Sandy is as follows:
    • Pick-up trucks (residents only): $5
    • Single axle stake body and dump trucks (residents only): $15
    • Pick-up trucks, single axle stake body and dump trucks (permitted haulers): $15
    • Tandem axle trucks including crane/knuckle boom trucks: $32 per ton (to be weighed at scale)

These fees will remain in place until Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Complete details on tree and debris removal are available online. Additional questions may be referred to the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.

Who to Call About Downed Trees

Posted 11:53 a.m.

downed treeHurricane Sandy has left debris in many of our yards. In all cases, stay away from downed wires near downed trees. Electricity can travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire.

Here’s who to call about downed trees:

Adjacent to Public Roads

  • Contact Virginia Department of Transportation at 1-800-FOR-ROAD, TTY 711.

On County Parkland

  • Contact Fairfax County Park Authority at 703-324-8594, TTY 703-324-3988. More information about tree removal on Park Authority land can be found here.

Posing Hazard to Public Areas

  • Contact Fairfax County Urban Forestry at 703-324-1770, TTY 703-324-1877.

Private Property

  • Removal is the property owner’s responsibility. Be aware of the risk of chain saw injury during tree removal. Use a chain saw safely

Take the Emergency Information Survey

Have you taken our emergency information survey yet? We want your input! 

As part of our review of the June 29 derecho storm, we’re asking for your help in completing a short survey. The survey focuses on a few key areas: 

  • Tools (such as CEAN) that you use to access emergency information. 
  • Non-government resources (such as media) you access for emergency information. 
  • County response to the June 29 derecho storm. 
  • Ways to improve information delivery, especially during power outages. 
  • Personal preparedness. 
  • And if you own a business, we have a set of questions for you. 

Here’s the survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/fairfaxemergencyinfo 

Thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to complete this important survey so we can learn from you and adapt our response for future incidents.

Aug. 14 Deadline to Apply for Tropical Storm Lee Disaster Loans

Posted 11:15 a.m.

 

Road flooding damage from September 2011

Damage caused by the Sept. 8, 2011, heavy rains and flooding. Picture from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is reminding businesses in Virginia that working capital loans are still available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private non-profit organizations affected by Tropical Storm Lee that occurred on Sept. 8 – 9, 2011.

You must apply by Aug. 14.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) up to $2 million are available at 3 percent for private non-profit organizations of all sizes and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The loans are intended to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. 

These EIDLs are available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in the following Virginia locations: Fairfax and Prince William counties; the neighboring counties of Arlington, Fauquier, Loudoun and Stafford; the independent cities of  Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.

You may apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

You also can obtain disaster loan information and application forms by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or send an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.  Loan application forms can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov.

Debris Disposal Update: $5 Disposal Fee to Expire on Sunday, July 22

A reduced residential disposal fee was instituted as part of the recovery effort from the June 29 storm. Residents who elected to self-haul loads of brush or bulk debris to the county’s recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex have been charged $5 per load. This special recovery disposal fee will expire on Sunday, July 22.

Beginning on Monday, July 23, disposal fees for brush and debris will return to their normal levels. A complete listing of disposal fees for waste brought to the Recycling and Disposal Centers at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex are available online. Additional questions may be referred to the Solid Waste Management Program at 703-324-5230, TTY 711.

Local Food Pantries In Need of Donations

Image of food in a grocery bagLocal nonprofits and shelters have been busy supplying residents in need with food, water and and other supplies that may have been lost during the June 29 derecho storm (and the resulting extended power loss) and recent heat wave. Loss of power at the shelters and increased demand for assistance has depleted many of the shelters’ reserves, and these food pantries are now turning to the community for help.

Fairfax County partner food pantries and nonprofits are accepting food and cash donations to help restock and supply our most vulnerable families with healthy meals. Those interested in donating should contact a local food pantry directly for more information on how to contribute.

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