Virginia Hurricane Season Flood Insurance Twitter Chat

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

Flood Insurance Twitter Chat, 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flooding is the most prevalent natural disaster in Virginia.

Just a few inches of water inside an average house can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, and yet a flood insurance policy can cost just over $100 a year for those living in a low- to moderate-risk area.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will host its first Twitter chat to discuss flood insurance in Virginia. Emergency management officials will be joined by the Virginia State Corporation Commission and National Flood Insurance Program representatives to answer questions on this topic.

Make plans to join the conversation using the hashtag #GetReadyVA on Thursday, June 30, from 2-3 p.m. (EDT).

To find your official flood map, access a range of other flood hazard products and take advantage of tools for better understanding flood risk, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test June 22, 10:02 a.m.

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

Reporting Suspicious Activity and Active Shooter Guidance

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

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.

We Need Your Comments on Northern Virginia’s Hazard Mitigation Plan

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.

Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation PlanFairfax 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

Diminished Level of Telephone Service in Reston Area

UPDATE (11:30 p.m.):
Verizon has notified Fairfax County that as of 11:12 p.m. Thursday, June 9, the telephone issues in the Reston area have been resolved and services restored.

Posted at 1:35 p.m.

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety Communications (9-1-1 Center) reports that because of a Verizon damaged fiber line there is a diminished level of telephone service in the Reston area that may limit access to 9-1-1.  Verizon is working to correct the problem.

We will provide additional information as it becomes available.


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