Emergency operations underway ahead of Irene

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -- Now that the state is under a State of Emergency, crews at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is getting ready know for the impact of Irene. Come this weekend, about a hundred or so people will staffed inside their office, ready to react.

Agencies from all over the Commonwealth -- and even those on the national level -- are working the phones, setting up emergency plans for Hurricane Irene, a powerful storm that's already battering the Bahamas and a powerful storm that has her eyes set on the Mid-Atlantic.

"We are here, just starting our work," says Bob Spieldenner, with VA Dept. of Emergency Management.  That work started for Bob and other state agencies earlier this week.

More crews will arrive today "to make sure we are all aware of what the potential is here in Virginia and that we're ready to go just in case," says Spieldenner.

FEMA already sent a crew to Virginia -- to start coordinating now for Irene's impact.

Ahead of the storm, some big decisions have already been made. "We are not anticipating any large scale evacuations. And, we aren't looking at a lane reversal of 64," says Spieldenner.

But, leaders here are talking with your home town responders to coordinate any possible smaller evacuations like in areas that flood easily near the coast and Northern Neck.

"They know the impacts in their community. They know the floods," adds Spieldenner.

At this point no evacuations are anticipated for Central Virginia.

If you do get stranded there are a number of resources ready to react, "whether it's the National Guard. We've also used boated from the Department of Conservation and Recreation before," says Spieldenner.

A massive, coordinated effort -- well in advance of a wicked storm -- that has leaders here worried about storm surge, power outages and tropical storm winds that could last for nearly 30 hours.

Of course, this could all change based upon the track that Irene takes. Also, leaders are not expecting the river to flood in our area because the storm is to the east and the river levels are pretty low.

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