Posted at 8:30 a.m.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — in coordination with state, local and tribal emergency managers and state broadcasters’ associations in Virginia and North Carolina — will conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) this morning, Wednesday, June 22, at 10:02 a.m. (EST).
This voluntary test was rescheduled from an earlier scheduled test in February that was canceled due to severe weather.
The EAS test is made available to radio, broadcast and cable television systems and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. It will verify the delivery and broadcast and assess the readiness for distribution of a national-level test message.
The message of the test will be similar to the regular monthly test message of EAS, normally heard and seen by the public: “This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”
Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure required for the distribution of a national message and determine what technological improvements need to be addressed. The next national test is scheduled for Sept. 28. Results from the test will support preparations and improvements leading up to the national test.
In addition to learning about emergency events from the EAS system, you are encouraged to sign up for local alerts for your smart phone and email. You can receive alerts for severe weather alerts and severe traffic alerts, as well as other emergency-related alerts from Fairfax County. Sign up for free at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
Posted at 11 a.m.
Statement by Council of Government’s National Capital Region Emergency Preparedness Council Chairman David Snyder on Reporting Suspicious Activity, Preparing for Active Shooter Events Following Orlando Tragedy
Following this weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando, our law enforcement partners have noted there are no credible threats to the region. However, we also want to continue to encourage area residents to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. We can all help keep our communities safe by paying attention to our surroundings.
In addition, we believe it is important to share information on how people should prepare for active shooter events. While the subject is an unpleasant one, I encourage people to learn from the many public safety resources available about active shooter situations as part of their personal preparedness for emergencies.
Reporting Suspicious Activity – “See Something, Say Something” Tips
Suspicious activity is any observed behavior that could indicate terrorism or terrorism-related crime.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says suspicious activity includes, but is not limited to:
- Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.
- Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
- Observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
If you see something suspicious, immediately call 9-1-1. If you remember something you saw earlier – whether it happened a few hours or days ago – call your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency phone number. In Fairfax County, that number is 703-691-2131.
When reporting a suspicious activity, try to include:
- Who or what you saw (e.g., height, weight, complexion, hair color, weapons, license plate, make of vehicle, etc.).
- When you saw it.
- Where it occurred.
- Why it was suspicious.
Information reported to law enforcement is shared with partners throughout the region. For more information on See Something, Say Something and reporting suspicious activity, visit www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something.
Active Shooter Resources
Local law enforcement agencies have promoted the DHS pamphlet on active shooter preparedness. DHS recommends that when an active shooter is in the vicinity, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation. Homeland Security highlights three options — run, hide and fight.
- Have an escape route and plan in mind.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
- Help others escape, if possible.
- Do not attempt to move the wounded.
- Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Call 9-1-1 when you are safe.
- Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view.
- Lock door or block entry to your hiding place.
- Silence your cellphone (including vibrate mode) and remain quiet.
- Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
- Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
- Act with as much physical aggression as possible.
- Improvise weapons or throw items at the active shooter.
- Commit to your actions – your life depends on it.
“Run, Hide, Fight: Surviving an Active Shooter Event” was produced by the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
If you need additional information or guidance, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Posted at 3:50 p.m.
Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. It is commonly defined as sustained actions taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from hazards and their effects. Furthermore, hazard mitigation planning focuses attention and resources on community policies and actions that will produce successive benefits over time.
Developing a hazard mitigation plan enables local governments to:
- Increase education and awareness around hazards, and vulnerabilities.
- Build partnerships for risk reduction.
- Identify long-term, broadly-supported strategies for risk reduction.
- Align risk reduction with other state, tribal, or community objectives.
- Identify implementation approaches that focus resources on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities.
- Communicate priorities to potential sources of funding.
Moreover, a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for mitigation projects. Ultimately, hazard mitigation planning enables action to reduce loss of life and property, lessening the impact of disasters.
Fairfax County is covered under the Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDF), which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2012. The plan addresses hazards such as floods, winter storms, severe storms, tornadoes, drought, earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, geologic/karst, dam failures and extreme temperatures.
The Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from 21 jurisdictions, is in the process of updating the plan and having it approved by February 2017 to comply with the five year update cycle required by FEMA.
The 2017 Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan’s hazard identification and risk assessment chapter (PDF) is now available for public review and comment. Please email any comments by Sunday, June 26 to email@example.com.
Posted at 10 a.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has advised county officials that we can likely expect severe thunderstorms and weather this weekend — most likely in the afternoon and evening hours.
According to the NWS forecast, the county is likely to receive ½ inch to ¾ inch of rain within a one hour period and 2 to 3 inches in a six hour period.
NWS also notes that it is possible, especially on Sunday, that we could receive a maximum rainfall of 2½ inches in a one hour period and 4 inches in a six hour period in localized areas. These higher rainfall totals are expected to be localized and associated with small thunderstorm cells.
We can also expect tidal anomalies of about 1 foot to 1½ foot higher than normal.
Residents in areas prone to street flooding may want to take precautions and move vehicles to higher elevations. Don’t park in restricted areas and try to avoid parking under trees when possible.
Move any valuables from the basement, especially if your basement has flooded before.
With all high-intensity rainfall, street flooding is possible. If there is any possibility of a flash flood:
- Move immediately to higher ground.
- Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly.
- Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
And please remember to keep children away from creeks and their potentially rapidly rising waters.
You also may want to check storm drains and gutters to ensure that they are not clogged. Blocked stormdrains prevent the flow of rain from reaching streams and stormwater detention ponds. The water then backs up into streets and yards and may flood basements. Blocked stormdrains also may damage residential and commercial property and cause traffic delays.
Keep the openings of storm drains clear of debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. At no time, however, should you attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.
Property owners are responsible for driveway culverts and bridges that are part of the driveway structure and are not public storm drainage system structures. Storm drains outside rights-of-way and easements are privately maintained by the property owner.
To report a blocked storm drain, call Fairfax County Stormwater Management, 703-877-2800, TTY 711, or the Virginia Department of Transportation at 703-383-8368, TTY 711.
Public safety, public works and emergency management staff will continue to monitor the storm throughout the weekend, along with conditions on the ground, and will send emergency alerts if the situation changes. You can sign up for these alerts, along with severe weather alerts, from Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
The complete forecast can be found online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/weather-forecast.htm.
Flooding FAQ’s – www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/navbar/faqs/flooding.htm
Posted at 1 p.m.
This Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5, our Health Department will be conducting a first-of-its-kind community assessment in a representative sampling of neighborhoods throughout the county.
Through door-to-door surveys, we hope to get credible information about our community’s level of preparedness for emergencies. This information will be critical in improving our preparedness efforts and understanding how best to respond in times of disaster to meet our community’s needs.
The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) is a tool developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enable government at all levels to rapidly assess a community’s health needs after a disaster, as well as to measure household preparedness for disasters or emergencies.
CASPER will involve choosing a random sampling of neighborhoods within the county that are weighted toward more populated areas. Seven houses within each tract will then be selected at random. This sampling methodology will allow for data to be extrapolated to the entire county.
To conduct the study, small teams of Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers — supported by Health Department staff and Red Cross volunteers — will be visiting neighborhoods, going door-to-door, throughout the day on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon. Volunteers and staff will be wearing vests and identification badges.
Participation in the survey is confidential and voluntary; individuals may decline to participate when approached by interviewers. Each survey should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and will include general questions on the household and the people who live there, as well as questions about their knowledge of certain kinds of emergencies and disease threats and their personal preparedness.