RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – As Irene heads closer to the coast, Governor Bob McDonnell has authorized localities to order mandatory evacuations if necessary. He's already declared a state of emergency for Virginia.
This comes amid warnings from emergency officials to be prepared for power outages, flooding, and damage.
Right now, Dominion Virginia Power has its eyes on the Outer Banks and Virginia Coastline, but it says those in the Richmond area should start planning now, in case the lights cut out.
"Virginia metro area is going to potentially see some wind, some rain. We're gonna keep an eye on it. There's a possibility of some power outages. We're gonna keep an eye on it," said David Botkins with Virginia Dominion Power.
Knowing when and where it will hit is essential to their response.
"We want to make sure we know where the site of impact is going to be so that we can respond as quickly and safely as possible to get the lights back on for our customers," said Botkins.
Once the storm gets close, they'll know where to send crews to bring help. They say you can speed up the process of getting your lights turned on by updating your contact information. That way they can reach you quickly when they head out to restore power.
In the interim, make sure you're able to make do in the dark.
"Consider having extra batteries on hand for your weather radio, flash lights, maybe some bottled water. Some extra water on hand in case you lose that," said Botkins.
Also, unplug major appliances and electronics-- things like ovens and televisions.
"If you've got every light in the house on, and a bunch of electronics on or plugged in, and you lose power and then it comes back on it can create a drain on your system and possibly harm your breaker box," said Botkins
It's also important to consider how you plan to get in touch with Dominion to report your power outage. Remember, that might mean making sure you have a charged laptop or cell phone.
If you don't have a computer, you can call Dominion: 1-866-DOM-HELP.