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Heavy Snow Can Damage and Collapse Roofs; What You Should Know

Posted 12:25 p.m.

Heavy snow can significantly damage roofs and there are reports in our area of roofs collapsing. Look around your home and building to look for warning signs.  There are steps you can take to avoid roof damage.

What To Look For

For Homes
Most homes have sloped roofs, which means a lower risk of roof collapse. If you have a flat roof on your home, pre-manufactured home or a portion of your home, monitor the ceiling. Look for the following signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging ceiling beneath the flat roof.
  • Leaking water dripping through the ceiling.
  • New cracks on your ceiling drywall or plaster.
  • Popping, cracking or creaking sounds.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

For Commercial Buildings
Most commercial buildings are designed to accommodate a roof snow load of 24 inches of dense, compacted snow. Pay attention to the following warning signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging roof members including steel bar joists, metal decking, wood rafters, wood trusses and plywood sheathing.
  • Leaking water dripping through the ceiling.
  • Popping, cracking and creaking sounds.
  • Sagging ceiling tiles and/or sagging sprinkler lines and sprinkler heads.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

What You Can Do

  1. If you notice any of the warning signs listed above, evacuate the home or building immediately. Call or text 9-1-1
  2. When safe to do so, clear gutters, drains and downspouts of ice and debris so that water from melting snow has a path to flow away from your home. Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through exterior walls.
  3. Be careful, falls from roofs and possible exposure to electrical wires while on the roof are serious hazards.
  4. If you are concerned about the structural integrity your home, contact a licensed structural engineer, building inspector or other qualified individual.

Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed during this blizzard:

Who Maintains/Plows Your Road? Check This Map

Posted 10:15 a.m.

As the blizzard cleanup continues, we understand there’s frustration in some neighborhoods about snow removal. This storm dumped a whole winter’s worth of snow on us in two days. We continue to ask for your patience for everyone who’s trying to help dig out.

So who plows the roads? In most cases it’s the state Virginia Department of Transportation or a homeowner’s association. VDOT recognizes the frustration:

 

Fairfax County does not plow neighborhood roads (with a small, tiny exception of a few roads). We’re focusing our snow removal efforts on public buildings like police stations, fire stations, government centers and libraries.

 

Who Maintains Your Road

If you’re not sure who maintains your roads, we have a map that shows every owner of every road.

Simply enter your address:

maintenance map example

 

Who to Contact

Once you find out who maintains your road, it’ll likely be the Virginia Department of Transportation or a private entity like a homeowner’s association.

To contact VDOT, call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623). Please know we’re hearing of long wait times to get through because the storm affected most of the state.

 

Track VDOT Snow Plow Progress

You can track snow plow progress on VDOT’s snow plow tracker website. It will show you the status of roads and where plows are located.

snow plow map

 

Governor McAuliffe and Chairman Bulova Provide Update, Emphasize Need for Patience

Posted 5:01 p.m.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in Fairfax County today to assess the damage of this weekend’s blizzard in our area. The Governor and Chairman Sharon Bulova provided an update on storm clean up efforts and community priorities for what the Chairman called the Big Dig Out.

Both emphasized the need for continued patience in the coming days.

“This was a massive storm event with a tremendous amount of snow. It will take a while to move it.  We have 13,ooo pieces of equipment and we are adding more resources. We in the state are responsible for 58,000 miles of roads. Please stay off the roads and let our plows do their work.” said McAuliffe.

Watch the news conference:

 

Chairman Bulova outlined her community priorities as the Big Dig Out continues:

  • Please stay off the roads. It is critical that VDOT crews are able to effectively clear the streets and public safety can respond to emergencies. You can track VDOT snow plow progress online. Clean up will take several days!
  • There are miles of sidewalks that need to be shoveled and we need your help. While you are out today shoveling, please make sure all the sidewalks and walking paths in your neighborhood are shoveled. Help out your older or disabled neighbors who are not able to shovel. We also ask that you shovel out fire hydrants. By working together, we will get back to normal much faster
  • Please avoid walking in the streets, you are putting your life in danger.
  • Check on neighbors – stop by or give a neighbor a call if you haven’t seen them in a couple days. Take a moment to see if they are OK or need anything.
  • We are working with our faith community and nonprofit partners to shelter our homeless population throughout this storm event. This is a multi-faith response and a real demonstration of our unique Fairfax County culture. If you see someone who is unsheltered call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.

 

Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed during this blizzard:

VDOT Crews Clearing All Roads, Including Subdivisions

Posted 4:10 p.m.

(From the Virginia Department of Transportation, which is responsible for most roads in Fairfax County)

As of 3 p.m., interstates in Northern Virginia are improving quickly, with most pavement showing. Major routes are in minor to moderate condition, and secondary roads remain moderate to severe. Crews are also working around the clock to clear the 16,000 neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Crews are working hard to make major routes passable today and tomorrow. With the extremity of this storm and the need for special equipment to move snow in subdivisions, crews are working to make all neighborhood roads passable over the next several days. Check www.vdotplows.org for plow progress near your house.

Drivers are reminded to not travel today, as traffic will hinder plows.

What Residents Should Know

  • Plows will provide a path through neighborhoods that is drivable with caution for an average passenger vehicle. The path will not be curb-to-curb or bare pavement, and may remain uneven and rutted, especially with refreeze.
  • Chemicals are not typically used in subdivisions, but crews will sand hills, curves and intersections as needed to provide traction.
  • In many neighborhoods, front-end loaders and motor graders will be required to move snow where there is not enough room to push.
  • Crews are asked to be mindful of pushing large piles onto driveways, but in an extreme storm is an unintended consequence of making roads passable.
  • To give crews a chance to finish their plow assignments, VDOT asks that residents wait 48 hours after the storm is over before reporting “missed” roads.


Special Equipment Sought for Neighborhoods

VDOT invites contractors with loaders, motor graders and operators to contact VDOT Northern Virginia’s procurement office at 703-259-3240.

 

Other VDOT Resources

 

 

Sunday Blizzard Update: 5 Things to Know

Posted 9:25 a.m. / Updated 1:50 p.m.

(UPDATE: Government, Courts and Schools Closed Monday)

The blizzard is over!

The sun is out!

But the cleanup has just begun. The keyword of the day will be patience.

The historic storm has resulted in a challenging few days for Fairfax County residents and those working hard to keep the community safe. We ask that the community be patient. It will take several days for things to get back to normal and this will be a multi-day clean up. 

Here’s an update from our Emergency Operations Center this morning:

 

Here are a few things to know:

1.) Stay off the Roads

Please continue to stay off the roads. Major roads are still covered in snow, but now that the snow has stopped, the Virginia Department of Transportation can really make progress — and it would help greatly if you are off the roads. You can track VDOT snow plow progress online.

vdot cameras

Also, please don’t walk down the middle of streets as plows are out and about.

 

2.) Check on Neighbors

Call, text or check in on elderly or homebound neighbors. See if they need anything now that the blizzard has passed.

 

3.) Sidewalks

Yes, the great dig out in our neighborhoods begins!

It takes a whole community to shovel snow from sidewalks because your state and local governments simply don’t have the resources to clear sidewalks across the whole county.

While not legally obligated, we need your help to keep sidewalks safe by clearing snow in front of residential or business properties so that all pedestrians (especially school children), those with disabilities and the elderly, may walk safely. Our first responders need easy access, too.

Do what you can, take your time and don’t overexert yourself. There’s a lot of heavy snow to clear. Where should you clear?

7 Places to Shovel:

  1. The sidewalk in front of your home.
  2. The sidewalk in front of vacant homes or homes where residents are unable to shovel.
  3. Fire hydrants.
  4. Bus stops.
  5. Sidewalks/paths that lead to schools or community buildings.
  6. Bike trails.
  7. Stormdrains.

 

4.) Fire Hydrants

We have hundreds of fire hydrants in the county that need some TLC so we’re all safe. Every second counts if there’s a fire. We need you to adopt fire hydrants and dig them out.

We have a fire hydrant locator map as a reference guide to find ones near you.

Be like this guy:

 

5.) Clear Snow From Cars

When the roads are ready, you’ll want to break out of cabin fever. If you have a car, PLEASE make sure you clear all of the snow from atop your car.

Don’t be like this guy:

 

Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed as we dig out from this blizzard:

 

Centreville Incident Update

Posted at 6:20 p.m.

Colonial Pipeline is working with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the pipeline accident that occurred on Monday, September 21, in Centreville. Colonial is also continuing to collaborate with local, state and federal agencies, which includes the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Fairfax Water and the Virginia Department of Transportation, in connection to the response in Centreville.

  • Colonial is continuing to excavate and inspect the area to ensure public safety.
  • Air quality safety and waste removal plans have been approved and implemented by the Unified Command.
  • Air quality continues to read at safe levels at the excavation site.
  • Contaminated soil is being removed and transported via truck to a facility in Richmond for disposal.
  • Fairfax Water is at the scene and is closely monitoring the situation. There is no direct threat to the quality of drinking water at this time.
  • Incident responders will continue taking proper precautions to protect water quality.
  • There have been no injuries or known illnesses due to the incident.
  • Two dead fish were discovered in one of the ponds where gasoline was recovered. That is the only known impact to wildlife.
  • Fairfax County is working closely with Colonial Pipeline to ensure the safety of everyone in the affected area, including first responders, as well as working with area businesses affected by the leak so that they can reopen as soon as possible.

For more information, call the Community Assistance Hotline at 1-866-601-5880 or visit www.colpipe.com and click to be redirected to the Centreville, Va. Incident Site on the right column.

Two Years Ago: Waking Up in the Aftermath of the Derecho Storm

Posted 11:48 a.m.

Two years ago today, many of us woke up 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.

broken power line

Broken power lines in Fairfax County as a result of the derecho storm in 2012.

We continue to talk about the derecho storm two years later as it impacted many aspects of our emergency preparedness and response efforts. And we continue to conduct exercise drills so we’re better prepared:

We are preparing for the next weather event or emergency:

What preparations have you made?

We Need Everyone to Prepare

During widespread events such as the derecho, the government alone can’t respond immediately to long power outages, downed trees, hurricanes or people stuck in transit, especially across a county that’s 400 square miles.

To help, we’ve developed 30 easy ways for you to prepare, including:

  • Having cash and medicine on hand
  • Determining how much water you need
  • Two ways to get out of your home, workplace or faith community
  • Digital preparedness

Digital Preparedness

Digital preparedness is increasingly important and after the derecho, power and cell service were interrupted. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management created this quick visual to help us think about digital preparedness:

digital preparedness tips

Our new Fairfax Alerts system is now available, too. Please sign up for this new system so you can be informed of weather alerts and other critical information.

A Word About 9-1-1

One of the major impacts from the derecho was the inability to call 9-1-1. In this video, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova discusses some of the changes made with Verizon, the region’s 9-1-1 carrier.

Storm Causes Downed Trees and Power Outages in Belle Haven/New Alexandria Overnight

Posted at 11:20 a.m. /Updated 3:03 p.m.

Storm Causes Downed Trees and Power Outages in Belle Haven/New Alexandria Overnight

Last night’s storm caused a significant number of downed trees and power outages in the Belle Haven/New Alexandria area. Public safety, emergency management and public works personnel are in the area responding. Please use caution in the area.

Downed-Trees-6-18-14

If you have a power outage, call Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357), TTY 711; or Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) at 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500, TTY 711 depending on who provides your electrical service.

Other important emergency numbers can be found at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/emergency-phone-numbers.htm.

Small Business Preparedness

Posted at 1:45 p.m.

small business preparedness

An Ad Council survey reported that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents said they do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ about half of all private sector employees.
  • Have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.

All businesses should have an emergency plan, including small businesses! A successful business emergency plan includes emergency contact information, essential business functions, an alternate location and probable delegations of authority in the event of a disaster.

Here are some great resources to create your business emergency plan:

  • ReadyNOVA provides a free template to create a business emergency plan and will guide you step-by-step through the process.
  • The American Red Cross Ready Rating program is a free, self-guided program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a 123 point self-assessment of their level of preparedness and have access to tools, tips and best practices to help improve their level of preparedness. The 123 point assessment has been aligned with the federal government’s Private Sector Preparedness standards (PS-Prep).
  • Free business continuity planning software provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is scalable for any organization to create a business continuity plan. It can be used to maintain normal operations and provide resilience during a disruption.

Have questions or want a business presentation? Contact our Office of Emergency Management for more info by phone at 571-350-1000, TTY 711; or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Things to Know for the Weekend

Posted at 4:14 p.m.

As we continue to dig out of the recent winter storm, more snow is possible. The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for snow tonight and Saturday morning, with cold temperatures dropping Saturday night to around 19 degrees.

Here are some things to keep in mind this holiday weekend:

1.) VDOT Snow Removal: The Virginia Department of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on most county roads.

2.) Help Neighbors: Please check in with your neighbors to make sure they have supplies and to help them shovel out driveways, cars and sidewalks.

3.) Exercise Caution: Shoveling snow can be physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as sprains and strains and heart attacks.

4.) Beware of Ice: With the cold temperatures, snow that has melted will refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice. Drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.

5.) Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

6.) Pets: Don’t forget your pets. As the temperatures drop, bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

7.) Fire Hydrants: As streets continue to be plowed and snow is displaced onto sidewalks and roadsides, there may be a need to dig out fire hydrants.

8.) Fill Your Car: Keep the gas tank filled. Here’s more information on winterizing your vehicle.

9.) For additional updates throughout the winter season, follow us on Twitter at @fairfaxcounty. For more resources, visit our winter weather page.

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