Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Law enforcement officials and other first responders from several National Capital Region jurisdictions will participate in a full-scale exercise tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26, designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the region.
The life-like exercise will occur between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will include actors posing as casualties. The regional exercise will be staged at six sites in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, and will involve hundreds of police, fire and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors.
The locations include neighborhoods in Fairfax, Prince George’s and Arlington Counties, as well as the Northeast and Southeast quadrants of the District of Columbia. Fairfax County’s exercise site is the former Lorton Reformatory prison site.
There is no reason for alarm if you observe increased public safety personnel in the area of any of the exercise activity.
“We’ll stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties,” said Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). “However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”
Emergency managers who work together at COG planned the exercise to help protect residents by preparing for an attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.
Posted at 9 a.m.
Virginia’s Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning, Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
The annual drill is an opportunity to take a moment and think about what you would do during a real tornado — and actually practice those actions.
Do you know what you should do?
If you are in a structure such as your residence, a small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center or high-rise building:
- Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Put on sturdy shoes.
- Do not open windows.
If you are in a manufactured home or office:
- Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If you are not in a sturdy building, possible actions include:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
- Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- In all situations, however:
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
Learn more about tornadoes and tornado safety from Ready.gov.
Be sure to participate in this morning’s drill — and please register your participation.
After the drill is complete, be sure to register for Fairfax Alerts emergency notifications to your smartphone and email inbox. You can select specialized categories of alerts — be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts!
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Virginia was hit by the deadliest tornado event since 1959, resulting in five fatalities and more than 45 injuries. An EF-1 tornado touched down on the Town of Waverly in Sussex County, an EF-3 tornado affected Appomattox County, and another EF-3 tornado hit the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck region.
The National Weather Service (NWS) verified that eight tornadoes struck Virginia during that storm. These storms are a stark reminder that Virginians must prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will take place Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
The drill will start with a test tornado warning sent by the National Weather Service to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios. NOAA weather radios will sound a tone alert and show a test message (or flash to indicate a message) to simulate what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.
“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year, and Virginia averages 16 tornadoes each year,” said Bill Sammler of the National Weather Service. “When a tornado watch is issued for your area, know where to seek safe shelter should a tornado warning be issued.”
Show your support by registering for the tornado drill. In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up.
For more information about how to keep yourself, your loved ones and property safe during tornadoes, visit www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/tornadoes.
* If widespread severe weather threatens the commonwealth on that date, then the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.
Posted at 1:45 p.m.
In times of disaster, Fairfax County can’t recover without community partners and especially the partnership of Fairfax County houses of worship. Hunter Mill District faith communities, nonprofits, homeowner associations, PTA’s and other groups are invited to come together on the following two dates to receive important information and training.
- Seminar — Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017: Explore how local groups can form Community Resiliency Groups (CRG’s) for their community’s recovery after a disaster. The Hunter Mill District’s faith communities will be an integral part of the CRG’s, so please appoint several key members to represent your congregation.
- Exercise — Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017: The Hunter Mill District community groups and houses of worship will meet again and practice how they will work together in response to a local disaster. This will be a facilitated Table Top Exercise (TTX).
Both events will take place at Heritage Fellowship Church, 2501 Fox Mill Road, in Reston. Each will begin with a free dinner at 6 p.m., followed by the seminar at 6:30 p.m. Ample time will be given for Q&A and discussion during the evening sessions. Both evenings will end at 8:30 p.m.
You can register online at https://huntermillresiliency.eventbrite.com/.
Please advise the organizers of any ADA accommodations needed or food requirements when you register. If you have any questions you may call 703-324-7608.
Posted at 10:45 a.m.
At 10:20 a.m. next Thursday, Oct. 20, the Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill will be held. The annual drill is the time for us to practice our drop, cover and hold on skills in case we were to encounter an actual earthquake.
Over 1.2 million Virginia residents registered to participate last year. And Fairfax County has always led the way in registered participants — so let’s do so again this year. Register now to participate in this year’s drill.
Drop, Cover and Hold On
Drop, cover and hold on is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. The ShakeOut drill is our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes and learn what to do — and what not to do.
- Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.
- Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand.
- If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter.
- If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows).
- Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs
- Hold on until shaking stops.
Virginia Earthquake History
Virginia and much of the East Coast experienced a widely-felt earthquake at 1:51 p.m. eastern daylight time on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was located near Cuckoo, in Louisa County. With a magnitude of 5.8, this is the largest Virginia earthquake recorded by seismometers. More than 80 aftershocks have been reported by the USGS and the area is currently being monitored by geophysicists from several leading science institutions.
The U.S. Geological Survey is now reporting that this is the most widely-felt earthquake in U.S. history.
If you’re not already registered for Fairfax Alerts, which sends emergency alert messages via text, email and phone, sign up today. You’ll not only get severe weather alerts, but also a reminder message about next week’s earthquake drill. Sign up at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.