Coming Soon: (Fake) Tornadoes in Fairfax County

Image of girl standing next to destroyed school bus.

Madeline Evans of Henryville, Ind., walks the parking lot of her elementary school, March 3, 2012. The school and much of her town was devastated by a large tornado the day before. (Indiana National Guard photo by Sgt. John Crosby)

This past weekend, we witnessed the destruction and horror of one of Mother Nature’s most unpredictable and dangerous events – tornadoes. More than a month’s worth of tornadoes struck towns all across the country in one day leading to destroyed schools, shattered lives and most sadly of all, loss of life.

We’ve seen these scenes before, most notably last year in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

These scenes of destruction can happen right here in Fairfax County.**

That’s why from March 19-21, Fairfax County government will be conducting a three-day emergency exercise called “Operation: Enduring Collaboration.” The exercise scenario will be a major tornado outbreak. These three, 12-hour work shifts will not only sharpen our ability to respond, coordinate and plan for all emergencies better, but it will specifically call us to understand the potential power of tornadoes.

But our response will never be sufficient without your preparation and response, too. A whole community must be prepared for tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms (maybe next year, though!) and potential terrorist attacks. In the coming days and weeks, we will engage you on this blog and elsewhere about preparedness, tornadoes and more.

Each day during the exercise we will post a blog entry about some of the exercise details so you can see how the scenario unfolds, but more importantly, we hope it will inspire/compel you to think more about preparedness, response and questions you may have. For example:

  • Do you know your work or school emergency plans?
  • If a major highway is closed for days because of debris and destruction, how would you get around?
  • What if you don’t have power for days?
  • What if you’re stuck at work for hours and hours?

Emergency response is one of the most important responsibilities of local government, but government alone can’t respond. Families, businesses, faith communities, schools and many others in our large, diverse community must be prepared, too.

In the meantime, you can do five things to become better informed about potential emergencies:

  1. Subscribe to this blog for all future updates by email by visiting the Email Subscription section of the blog’s right-hand column.
  2. Sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network for weather, traffic and major incident updates by text or email.
  3. Follow us on Twitter.
  4. “Like” our Fairfax County Government page on Facebook.
  5. Bookmark our mobile-friendly emergency information homepage on your smartphone.
** We’re not immune from Mother Nature’s reach with twisters. In fact, a tornado struck Fairfax County on March 10, 2011 –  luckily there were no injuries and only minor structural damage. Previously, in 2004, a category F2 tornado struck in Centreville uprooting trees and causing property damage. Before that, there was a category F1 that stuck Newington in 2001, and in 1996 another category F2 struck Centreville. Numerous others have been reported in Fairfax County and the surrounding area.

About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

6 responses to “Coming Soon: (Fake) Tornadoes in Fairfax County”

  1. AJ says :

    A few weeks after that tornado hit in 2011, I visited a residential area that had been in the tornado’s path. There were a few houses there with roof and porch damage. Doesn’t that count as “structural damage”?

  2. Dave McKernan says :

    Sorry, The last comment was not anonymous. User error.

    Dave McKernan
    Coordinator of Emergency Management
    Fairfax County