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.
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.
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.
Early-season storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead
Posted at 10:30 a.m.
On Aug. 9, NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — issued an update to its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.
Forecasters now say there is a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of 45 percent chance), with 14-19 named storms (increased from the May predicted range of 11-17) and 2-5 major hurricanes (increased from the May predicted range of 2-4). A prediction for 5-9 hurricanes remains unchanged from the initial May outlook.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season.”
Bell noted other factors that point to an above-normal season include warmer waters across the tropical Atlantic than models previously predicted and higher predicted activity from available models.
While hurricanes typically don’t strike Fairfax County directly, we often feel the effects of these storms with high winds and heavy rainfall, which can lead to localized flooding.
Make sure you stay ready by keeping your emergency supply kit up-to-date ~ watch a video from our emergency management office on what types of items should go in your emergency kit. Also, be sure you are signed up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts, delivered by text to your smartphone as well as by email.
2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season
In just the first nine weeks of this season there have been six named storms, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
Two of these storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States. Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Fla.
The update also decreases the chance of a near-normal season from 35 percent to 30 percent, and a below-normal season from 20 percent to only 10 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.
Posted at 9 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch, in effect from 9 a.m. through this evening.
A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected today with localized heavy rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour possible.
Runoff from excessive rainfall may cause rapid rises of water in low-lying and poor drainage areas as well as streams and creeks, resulting in flash flooding. Urban areas will be most susceptible.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
Live Weather Radar
Posted at 10:45 a.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for the cities of Fairfax, Alexandria and Falls Church, as well as central Fairfax County until 2:30 p.m. today.
A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. If you are in the warned area move to higher ground immediately. Residents living along streams and creeks should take immediate precautions to protect life and property.
The weather service reports that at 10:24 a.m., Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the area. Over two inches of rain have already fallen near Merrifield, with over one inch in much of the remainder of the area. Additional rainfall amounts of one to two inches are possible. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly.
Precautions / Preparedness Actions
- Keep children away from creeks and their potentially rapidly rising waters.
- Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road.
You may also receive a WEA alert on your phone. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are free informational text messages sent to WEA-enabled phones within range of an imminent and dangerous local situation, severe weather event or AMBER alert. The National Weather Service and Fairfax County are among the select entities that can send these messages to your phone regardless if you signed up.
Posted at 3:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a flash flood watch, in effect from tomorrow (Friday) afternoon through Saturday afternoon, July 29. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.
NWS reports that low pressure is going to develop over the Mid Atlantic Friday and remain nearly stationary this weekend. This will have the potential to bring 3 inches or more of rain to the region through Saturday afternoon. Thunderstorms could cause locally higher rainfall amounts.
Heavy rainfall may result in rapid rises in streams and creeks. This could quickly result in flooding, especially in low lying and poor drainage areas.
You should monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.