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How You Can Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Posted at 3:15 p.m.

Never does our compassion and generosity become more evident than following a major disaster, as evidenced by the outpouring of concern and desire to do something for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Numerous nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, private sector partners and governmental agencies are working together to most effectively and efficiently help survivors cope with the impacts of Harvey.

But many are wondering what they can individually do to assist? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there’s one thing you can do and one thing you should not do. In addition, there’s guidance if you’re considering going to Texas to volunteer.

Cash Donations are Best

Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources nearer to the disaster location. This inflow of cash also pumps money back into the local economy and helps local businesses recover faster.

hurricane harvey donations

Do Not Donate Unsolicited Items

Please do not donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine or perishable foodstuffs at this time. When used personal items are donated, the helping agencies must redirect their staff away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.

Volunteer

Texas and federal officials are also asking volunteers to not self-deploy, as unexpectedly showing up to any of the communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey will create an additional burden for first responders. The National Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) also noted the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.

To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification. At this time, potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground.

Our NewsCenter has more information and tips on how you can assist, including the warning signs of charity fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has details on how you can give safely.

You can also learn more from FEMA and follow FEMA’s Hurricane Harvey webpage.

Fairfax Alerts

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