Derecho Storm Five Years Later

Posted at 4:10 p.m.

Five years ago tonight, many of us experienced and then woke up the next day 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.

Overnight June 29, 2012, into the early morning hours of Saturday, June 30, Fairfax County and the National Capital Region learned first-hand what a derecho storm could do to our community.

Not only did the storm cause havoc when it hit, but many suffered through extreme heat without electricity for several days after.

We All Need to Be Prepared

As we reflect on our experiences from that time, it reminds all of us that we need to be prepared for any type of emergency or weather event.

During widespread events such as the derecho, government alone can’t respond immediately across a county that’s 400 square miles. We all need to take time to be prepared.

As we officially enter the summer season, which can bring extreme heat and severe thunderstorms, here’s an initial plan of action to prepare for the next weather event:

  1. Buy flashlights and extra batteries so you’re ready if you lose power. You may also want to consider purchasing a generator in case you lose electricity for extended periods. Do NOT plan to use candles as they pose a fire hazard. Do NOT use a generator inside your house.
  2. Sign up for emergency alerts, including severe weather alerts, that can be delivered to you by email and text.
  3. Become digitally prepared, including thinking about power supply for your smartphones, tips to conserve batteries and more.
  4. Text-to-911 is now available in Fairfax County. Know how and when to use it.
  5. Put together a plan. “Planning” may not seem important or perhaps you think it’s too hard to do. Start with the Ready NOVA Emergency Preparedness Planner, a free, online tool that makes it easy to put together an emergency plan for your family.
  6. Have cash on hand; if power is lost for an extended period of time, then you can only use cash to purchase things like gas for your car.
  7. Have plans to check on neighbors who may need help, such as people who are homebound or elderly.
  8. Get involved and get trained. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program prepares residents to safely help themselves, their families and their communities during major emergencies where first responders are delayed. Learn more about Fairfax County CERT and get ready to help.

Fairfax County Government learned many important lessons since the derecho, and we are more prepared now to provide support to our community in a weather crisis. Our public safety, emergency services and critical county agencies have consistently held exercises and are trained for emergencies like this.

We remember the derecho, but look ahead to ensure we’re all doing our parts to prepare for the next emergency in our community.

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About Fairfax County Emergency Information

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