Virginia declares "State of Emergency"

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - State agencies and private companies are jumping into action, making sure that if Hurricane Earl does cause any damage, they're ready for it.

Governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency Wednesday. It allows the right resources to be put in place...just in case.

There are never too many televisions, and always enough phone lines at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, because when you're in the business of managing emergencies, communication is key.

"We have to plan for the worst case," said Bob Spieldenner with the Va. Department of Emergency Management.

The declared "state of emergency" allows the people in the EOC to help direct the National Guard and State Police where they're needed most.

"We have a lot of rivers in there, streams and creeks all through that area, and we are always concerned about storm surge in the Hampton Roads area," Spieldenner said.

Hurricane Earl's track calls for it to graze eastern Virginia. The damage, if any, is not expected to be big.

"We could have some power outages along the eastern part of the state," he added.

Still, when any hurricane approaches, meteorologists like Jeff Mock are crucial, because they help Dominion Virginia Power keep the lights on.

"If I didn't get excited about this, I wouldn't be here. I'd be doing something else," said Mock.

If Earl swings by stronger than expected, the utility is urging customers to be prepared.

"You want to make sure that you've provided your telephone number to the company, so that we've got your proper phone number on file so we can call you back later on and let you know when the lights are back on," David Botkins with Dominion Virginia Power explained.

Back at the emergency center, the pace is brisk, but not panicked. They know what's on its way, and yet, the phrase "calm, before the storm" comes to mind.

"We think we'll be okay, but we're still expecting some impact," Spieldenner said.

VDOT is also clearing the storm drains in Hampton Roads, which would help reduce flooding that may occur from heavy rains.

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