RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Hurricane Irene is closing roads, causing flash flooding, knocking down trees and cutting off power to more than 75 percent of Dominion customers all over central Virginia. The storm has been blamed for at least three deaths.
As of 11:25 p.m., Dominion Virginia Power is reporting there are 373,803 customers in the Richmond Metro area without power, and more than 912,000 without power in Virginia. Report an outage 1-866-366-4357.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management tweeted that if you don't have power now, you may not have it for the next 1-2 weeks -- be prepared and patient. www.vaemergency.gov.
Dominion Virginia Power tweeted "Until we are able to get out & assess all initial damage, we cannot provide restoration times. No estimates have been provided for any area."
At about 8:30 p.m., the Richmond fire department reported a partial collapse of a one story building that is on fire in the 2600 block of Chamberlayne Avenue in a commercial building. As of 8:50, the fire was coming under control, according to the fire department's twitter feed. There has been no report of injuries.
There was also a roof collapse at a 3-story apartment building in the 300 block of West Baker Street in North Richmond.
We've just confirmed a fatality in Chesterfield County. A tree fell, injuring a man and woman in the 14800 block of Walthall Drive. Both were taken to the hospital. The man died from his injuries. The woman is expected to be okay.
Two other people in Virginia have died due to Hurricane Irene. A tree fell on a car in Brunswick County and killed someone inside the vehicle. The passenger, James Blackwell, 67, of Brodnax, died at the scene. The driver, Herbert Wayne, was transported with non life threatening injuries.
Earlier in the day, officials say winds from Hurricane Irene toppled a tree and sent it crashing through an apartment building in Virginia, killing an 11-year-old boy. A Newport News spokeswoman said the 11-year-old boy and his mother were in the apartment when a large tree fell shortly after noon Saturday. Winds from the storm were around 60 mph at the time. The boy, who was not identified, was pronounced dead at the scene. His mother was able to make it out of the apartment unhurt.
Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency and mandatory evacuations have been ordered for at least 11 localities, including the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach, Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, and for low-lying areas of Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones declared a local state of emergency Saturday night at approximately 10:20 p.m. due to the substantial effects felt from Hurricane Irene.
Virginia State Police troopers have responded to more than 150 traffic crashes and about 80 disabled vehicles. Officials say troopers and dispatchers have fielded more than 875 calls for service between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Traffic on Interstate 85 south at the I-95 interchange (mile marker 51) has been reopened as of 4:45 p.m. It was closed due to multiple downed trees at about 3 p.m.
The Boulevard Bridge was closed for a period of the evening after a tree had fallen on the south bank of the bridge and blocked the roadway.
An auto parts store collapsed in York County. A spokeswoman said one person was briefly trapped inside the building, but crawled out. He was being evaluated by emergency personnel on the scene.
The National Guard Bureau is spearheading an effort to stage forces in Virginia that would enable them to rapidly respond in the event they are needed for recovery operations in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
The personnel and equipment will be prepositioned in Virginia, and then could be deployed in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey or Washington, D.C. through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system if needed. As the severe weather continues past Virginia, the forces could then be available for duty in states to the north.