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National Preparedness Month: Hurricanes and Inclement Weather

Posted at 12:30 p.m.

Hurricanes can bring heavy rain, high winds and power outages can occur. Flooding, downed power lines, uprooted trees and flooded vehicles are all possible.

To stay safe, make sure you have an emergency kit prepared and listen to any and all messages from emergency response personnel.

In this video, Sulayman Brown with our emergency management office, discusses hurricane and severe weather safety.

To stay safe from hurricanes and inclement weather, be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts (

Learn more about preparing for hurricanes, as well as all hazards, on our emergency information Web page.

2015 Hurricane Preparedness Week

Posted at 11 a.m.

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week!

Now is a good time to plan how to protect your family during these powerful storms in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on Monday, June 1. The “How to Prepare for a Hurricane” guide (PDF)  provides valuable information about planning for evacuation and shelter, and how to avoid flood waters and high winds during a hurricane.

Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office also has some great advice on preparing — as well as how to save money on your preparedness supplies during the statewide hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday, underway now through Sunday, May 31.

Learn more online about the sales tax holiday, hurricane preparedness and being ready for any emergency.

Shop and Save During Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

Posted at 1 p.m.

The 2015 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Though hurricanes don’t typically make landfall in Fairfax County, the effects of high winds and flooding can wreak havoc on our community and businesses.

To assist in preparing for hurricane season, Virginia will hold its Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment Sales Tax Holiday May 25-31.

During this time, items such as batteries, generators up to $1,000, chainsaws up to $340, smoke detectors, first-aid kits, flashlights and more will be tax-free. Check out the flyer below with details on items you can purchase — tax-free — or this list of tax-exempt items (PDF) from the Virginia Department of Taxation.

Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday 2015

The hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday is part of the statewide Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week, May 24-30, that coincides with National Hurricane Preparedness Week sponsored by the National Weather Service.

Learn more online or call our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711 for more details on the sales tax holiday, hurricane preparedness or other emergency preparedness related topics.

Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week and Sales Tax Holiday Begin Today, May 25

Posted at 3 p.m.

Our community is at risk for the damaging effects of coastal and inland tropical storm systems and widespread flooding. To emphasize the importance of preparing for hurricane season — which starts June 1 — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has recognized May 25-31 as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week across Virginia.

“As we saw in years past storms like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, these storms can result in tragic deaths and tremendous damage to homes and businesses,” said McAuliffe.

Our emergency management officials encourage you to have an emergency kit of supplies, starting with three days’ of bottled water and non-perishable food; a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries to hear emergency information. Other items to include are flashlights and extra batteries, a first-aid kit and an extra supply of prescription medicines.


Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

Also beginning today, May 25, through Saturday, May 31, the state is offering a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Shop during the sales tax holiday and you won’t pay sales tax on many supplies for protecting your home and business. Many useful items qualify (PDF).  Shop for items that have a price of $60 or less, such as:

  • Artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice.
  • Batteries, excluding car or boat batteries.
  • Portable self-powered light sources, including flashlights and lanterns and glow sticks.
  • First-aid kits.
  • Cellphone chargers.
  • Weather Band radios and NOAA Weather Radios.

You can also shop for items that have a sales price of $1,000 or less, such as portable generators and generator power cords; inverters and inverter power cables.

Retail outlets will have information about the tax holiday. You also can visit, and for more details.


Video: Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is May 25-31

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

It’s smart to get ready for hurricane and flash flooding season, which arrives June 1. And it’s smart to save money.

You can do both by shopping for such products as batteries, food storage containers, generators, first-aid kits, bottled water, radios and more between May 25-31 during Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. When you do, you won’t pay sales tax on many useful products that cost up to $60 or on generators costing $1,000 or less. That’s a savings of 5 percent.

And gas-powered chainsaws that cost $350 or less and chainsaw accessories that cost $60 or less also are tax free — a new addition to this year’s sales tax holiday.

A complete list of exempt items available for purchase is online at

Video: Hurricane Preparedness

Posted at 4:15 p.m.

Hurricane season began on Saturday, June 1, and according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, this is expected to be an active Atlantic Hurricane season. We were affected by Hurricane Sandy last year and a slight turn westward would have impacted us more. We all need to be ready.

Our Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to take some simple steps now to ensure that you and your family are prepared in case of hurricanes or other severe weather.


Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo Credit: NOAA/NASA

Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo Credit: NOAA/NASA

Among the steps you should take now:

  • Assemble an emergency supply kit. If you already have one, check it to make sure all supplies are accounted for and re-stock items as necessary.
  • Cut dead trees and limbs that could fall on your home.
  • Learn the difference between a watch and a warning. 
    • A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
    • A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
  • If your home or business is in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a current flood insurance policy (not typically part of a standard insurance policy). A 30-day waiting period is generally required to purchase flood insurance, so take time now to visit your insurance agent to learn more.
  • Take pictures of your property before the storm to help validate your claim and remember to take your policies with you if you need to evacuate.

Learn more from our preparedness Web page as well as For easy access to hurricane information on your phone, download the free Hurricane App from the American Red Cross (iPhone and Android). It will help you track storms, prepare your family and home, get help, and more.

What Can You Buy During the Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday?

Posted at 1:50 p.m.

To encourage preparation for hurricane/flooding season, which begins June 1, Virginia has a sales tax holiday for purchasing hurricane/emergency supplies. Many useful and everyday items are on this list. 

The statewide Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is underway, through May 31. During this time you can save money on sales tax for a wide variety of items to help you, your family and your business prepare for hurricanes.

So what type of items are tax-exempt? Check out the Infographic below for details.

Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday Flyer

Click the graphic above for a larger version or to print a copy.

For more on the sales tax holiday, visit

Video: Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday, May 25-31

Posted: 10 a.m.

The Atlantic Hurricane season starts June 1. To get prepared, and to save money, our emergency management officials encourage you to take advantage of the statewide hurricane sales tax holiday.

Shop May 25-31, during the sales tax holiday, and you won’t pay sales tax on supplies for protecting your home and business.

Check out the video below for details on what you should put in your emergency kit — and what’s eligible for tax savings.

For more, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management or the hurricane sales tax holiday page from the Virginia Department of Taxation.

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.

Virginia Task Force 1 in New Jersey

Posted 12:58 p.m.

As New Jersey and other states north of us recover from a more devastating blow from Hurricane Sandy than we received, our own first responders are there helping.

Virginia Task Force 1 — Fairfax County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team — was deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Little Ferry, N.J., and participated in water rescues and evacuations Tuesday in an area where a levee broke. VATF-1 worked through the night with one team as well as the military.

This morning, the team was briefed by FEMA and they are in the planning stages for the next 24 hours.  The water has receded in the Little Ferry area and the team is now able to drive through the entire neighborhood with little difficulty. It was anticipated the team would finish with the neighborhood around noon today 

The 80-member team and four canines are doing well and members have been able to get some rest.

The team consists of firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue specialists, structural engineers, physicians, hazardous materials specialists, planning and logistical staff, and canines and handlers. In addition to its regular complement of equipment, the team will also deploy with two inflatable boats, and water rescue specialists.

As the federal sponsoring agency, FEMA pays for all costs and expenses incurred by VATF-1 when members are activated or undergo training. All training, equipment, and personnel costs of VATF-1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis, including its new training facility in Lorton. Additionally, when firefighters and members are deployed, there is no loss in emergency response or service to Fairfax County residents, as minimum staffing for all apparatus is continuous for all fire and rescue stations. The training and expertise gained by working with our federal partners in times of local, regional, national and international disasters and emergencies enhances and improves the skill sets of firefighters and paramedics. The skills gained from this partnership provides a direct benefit to county residents by using these skills in making Fairfax County a safer and better place to live and work.


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