Richmonders react to governor's Irene briefing

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – "We will be here to make you whole again." That's the word from state and federal officials Tuesday as they reviewed the latest recovery efforts in the Commonwealth.

Governor Bob McDonnell and presidential cabinet members touted resilience, patience and teamwork at the State Emergency Operations Center. But when we asked Richmonders what they thought about the message, it seems in many instances, patience is wearing thin.

Oh what a tangled web Irene has woven throughout Central Virginia. The scars she's leaving aren't only apparent in broken trees and grass singed from fallen power lines; you'll find them in the emotional drain of waiting to come out of the dark.

"They said it was supposed to be on between 5 and 11 last night and you see it's still off," said Stratford Hills resident Louis Kastelberg.

Governor McDonnell learned of progress in his briefing at the State EOC. He noted across Virginia a number that started at 2.5 million outages has whittled down to several hundred thousand.

"They know where the problems are," McDonnell maintained. "They're working as fast as they can. 6,000 power workers now for Dominion and the co-ops are spreading out all over the state."

He is requesting your patience, but Kastelberg said that's asking a lot.

"I'm not very patient," he told us. "Neither is my wife. She cries about it."

He's also wondering who will pay for the cleanup and restoration. We put that question to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano before the state requests a Federal Disaster Declaration.

"What we are doing right now at the end of the fiscal year is ensuring that all requests for immediate or individual assistance and public assistance can be granted," she said.

In fact, they're putting off new long term projects to do so.

Damage assessments should be complete by the end of this week. Then, the governor will decide whether or not the destruction will qualify the Commonwealth for that disaster declaration.

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