State agencies prepared for winter storm

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You don't have to leave home to find help for loved ones caught up in the storm. Just dial 211 for information on warming shelters to emergency assistance for elderly or disabled residents. It's just how one state agency is helping during the snow storm.

At the Virginia Emergency Management Operations Center, more than 100 people will fill the center to help local agencies with whatever is needed.

Friday night, it was the calm before the storm. One that's expected to pack a punch.

"This will be a major storm - a significant event with heavy enough snow," said state coordinator, Michael Cline.

250 Virginia National Guard Soldiers have been deployed to areas most likely to feel the brunt of the winter weather.

"Those people will be in place before the snow starts falling. That way when local governments need assistance either bringing people out and bringing them to the hospital, or providing other assistance local governments might need," said Cline.

If you're worried about loved ones in the storm's path, a simple phone call can put you in touch with resources available in their community.

Marianne McGhee with the Virginia Department of Social Services says 24 hour call centers are open throughout the state.

"If you're not sure about who is sheltering, or who is providing food, or where you can go for more information for emergency assistance - just think about dialing 211 and talking to someone about the situation," said McGhee.

Agencies like VDOT will have people at the Emergency Operations Center.

Cline says the first 24 to 48 hours are critical and they're ready to help local governments in any way that's needed.

"There may be some areas where budget cuts had an impact on public safety. They won't have some of the resources they might have had in the past, but I think they're prepared they know what's coming this time," said Cline.

Those working at the EOC will be operating under 12 hour shifts.

(c) 2010. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.