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Mount Vernon District Disaster Recovery Training

Posted at 10:30 a.m.

Community Collaboration for Community ResiliencyIn times of disaster, Fairfax County can’t recover without community partners and especially the partnership of Fairfax County houses of worship. Mount Vernon District faith communities, nonprofits, homeowner associations, PTA’s and other groups are invited to come together to receive important information and training.

  • Seminar: Thursday, Oct. 13 — The goal of the seminar is to connect neighbors and educate organizations about the disaster recovery efforts in Fairfax County and how each community partner can contribute to the process. Explore how local groups can form Community Resiliency Groups (CRGs) for their community’s recovery after a disaster. The Mount Vernon District faith communities will be an integral part of the CRGs, so you’ll want to appoint several key members to represent your congregation.
  • Exercise: Thursday, Nov. 3 — The Mount Vernon 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, designed by the FEMA National Exercise Program, that creates a simulated disaster environment where we test and practice the information acquired from the seminar.

Both events will be held at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 7836 Fordson Road, Alexandria and begin at 6 p.m. with dinner (free) followed by the seminar at 6:30 p.m. Ample time will be given for question and answer (Q&A) and discussion during the evening sessions. Both evenings will end at 8:30 p.m.

Register online at https:// Please advise us of any ADA accommodations needed or food requirements when you register. For any questions, call 703-324-7608, TTY 711.

CERT Training

Another training opportunity is available from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training classes begin on Monday, Nov. 7, at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. There are two sessions each week on Mondays and Wednesdays that run until Dec. 7. The class is 28 hours in length, plus the final practical exercise. Learn more on the Fire and Rescue blog.

Phone Outage Affecting Burke Area

Updated at 4:10 p.m.

The Verizon FIOS outage in the Burke area has been resolved.  Normal service to 9-1-1 has been restored.

Posted at 3:40 a.m.

Verizon is experiencing an outage of Fios landline telephone service in the Burke area that may affect residents in the vicinity of Burke in contacting 9-1-1 or any telephone number from their Verizon Fios service.

If you need 9-1-1 in the Burke area, please use a wireless cellphone to contact 9-1-1.  Text to 9-1-1 is also an option to reach 9-1-1.

Verizon informs the county this is a problem in the vicinity of Burke and that it may be resolved by 9 a.m.

America’s PrepareAthon Day Wraps Up National Preparedness Month

Posted at 3:40 p.m.

Today, Sept. 30, is America’s PrepareAthon Day. It’s also the last day of the month, bringing to a close National Preparedness Month.

Each week in September our emergency management office has shared a video emphasizing several ways for you to become better prepared — how to make an emergency plan, how to make an emergency supply kit and how to stay informed.

Today’s video is about how you can get involved and help prepare your community be ready for and respond to any type of emergency.

You can join a program like Citizen Corps, but you can also get involved by simply making a commitment to check in on others, especially the elderly and vulnerable in your community, before, during or after an emergency event.

Learn more about emergency preparedness at and how to get involved at

Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

Posted at 9:30 a.m.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) LogoThe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a mandatory nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) this afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

The purpose of the test is to ensure that EAS remains an effective means of public warning about emergencies and was designed to assess the President’s ability to send a message to the American people within 10 minutes of a disaster.

Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure and identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.

FEMA’s test message will be similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages. Specific language will differ slightly for the national test.

“This is a national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.” (emphasis added.)

The test message will be transmitted in both English and Spanish, with EAS participants deciding which version to use for their communities. The test is intended to last approximately one minute and is expected to have limited impact with only minor disruptions of radio and television programs. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) will not be part of the test.

How EAS Works

The Emergency Alert System is a resilient form of emergency alert notification. Emergency alerts are created by authorized government agencies and sent to local radio and video service providers by local connections or through a central system administered by FEMA. The radio and video service providers then disseminate the emergency alert messages to affected communities. The FCC prescribes technical and procedural rules for communications providers’ participation in this process.

Survey Shows Many Fairfax County Households Lack a Basic Emergency Plan and Kit

Posted at 1 p.m.

Even though the majority of Fairfax County residents say they feel prepared for a large-scale emergency, a significant portion of households do not have a communication plan for family members or an emergency supply kit at home, according to a recent survey.

Coinciding with National Preparedness Month, the county’s Health Department released the report today from its Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) conducted in June to see how ready county residents are for a variety of emergencies.

Volunteers from the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps., American Red Cross and employees from the Health Department spent roughly 40 hours from June 4-16 going door-to-door in randomly selected neighborhoods within Fairfax County. A total of 1,227 households were approached and 253 interviews completed. The data obtained was then analyzed and compiled into a concise report that can be found at (PDF).

According to the survey results:

  • Roughly 60 percent of households have an emergency communication plan.
  • 39 percent have a designated meeting place within the neighborhood. Only 19 percent have practiced the plan with all members of the household.
  • About 54 percent of respondents reported keeping an emergency supply kit (with items like flashlights, non-perishable food and drinking water) in the home; only 45 percent have a similar kit in their vehicle.

Fairfax AlertsThe report also reveals that almost 85 percent of respondents would seek information from Fairfax County Government during an emergency, but less than half (47 percent) of households are enrolled in Fairfax Alerts or a similar emergency alerting system. Television and the Internet were cited by respondents as the most popular sources of information during an emergency.

Other highlights:

  • Nearly 17 percent of residents feel unprepared in the event of a large-scale emergency.
  • About 91 percent of pet owners surveyed reported that they would take their pet with them in in the event of an evacuation but only 40 percent of pet owners have emergency supplies ready for their pets.
  • In 40 percent of households, someone has taken training in CPR and in 36 percent of households someone has taken training in first aid.
  • Nearly 30 percent of Fairfax County households do not currently have a working carbon monoxide detector in their homes.

Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)

CASPER is a tool developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enable government at all levels to rapidly assess a community’s health needs after a disaster, as well as to measure community preparedness for disasters or emergencies using a validated sampling methodology.

While Fairfax’s CASPER shows that many households still need to take steps to be more prepared, the information is valuable to emergency planners who must anticipate, mitigate, plan for and respond to the potential needs of residents prior to, during and after a disaster.

“The CASPER study is important because it provides us real data specific to residents of Fairfax County that can help shape and direct Fairfax County Government’s preparedness and response efforts,” said Jesse Habourn, a senior emergency planner with the Health Department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Reinforcing the importance of having emergency supplies and an emergency plan, for both people and pets, will be of critical importance going forward.

Encouraging more people to sign up for text notification systems like Fairfax Alerts will also ensure residents are less vulnerable should there be widespread power outages or disruptions to telecommunication services.

Emergency Supply Kit

Everyone should have supplies on hand sufficient for at least three days following an emergency. The kit should be customized to individual and family needs and you should check supplies every six months. For a list of items to include, go to

Make a Plan

If your family is in different locations when disaster strikes, do you know how you will contact each other and reunite at a safe location?  has an online tool that can assist residents and business owners in Northern Virginia to develop a Family Emergency Plan or a Business Emergency Plan. The final plan can be saved as a PDF document and emailed to family, friends and colleagues.

Stay Informed

Fairfax County’s Emergency Information Blog is the county’s main communication platform before, during and after an emergency. Residents can also sign up for important and timely weather, traffic and emergency alerts on Fairfax Alerts. To register, visit

For more information on emergency preparedness topics in Fairfax County, visit