State prepares for extensive impact from Sandy - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

State prepares for extensive impact from Sandy

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Mayor Dwight Jones declared a state of emergency for the City of Richmond.

"We certainly don't want to overly alarm residents, but we do want them to be vigilant and make preparations," he said.

The mayor says the City is doing its part by coming up with a plan to handle whatever Sandy may bring.

When hurricane Irene hit last year, city leaders came under criticism for not being better prepared for the aftermath. The damage was extensive. But now, Mayor Jones says this time will be different.

"I'm here and I'm leading," he said. "That local state of emergency means that we are able to activate emergency operations. Our emergency operations plan provides for an enhanced mobilization of city resources when we have major events such as this."

This means starting Sunday at 8 a.m. the Emergency Operations Center Site will open. It's on Hermitage Road at the site of the Richmond Ambulance Authority.

Potential power outages and downed trees are predicted to be the biggest challenges ahead.  More staff will be on hand if you call 311 to report a non-emergency. This would be the number to call to report downed trees. Also, Mayor Jones says the city is coordinating responses with Dominion.

Emergency relief shelters will also be opening up. The two locations are: Linwood Holton Elementary School, 1600 West Laburnum Avenue, and at J. H. Blackwell Elementary School, 1600 Everett Street.

Both schools can take several hundred people.

"It's important that they bring medication or any medical supplies that they may need any type of food, special diet that they're on they would be responsible for that," said Doris Moseley, director of Social Services.

Pets are not allowed at the shelters but staff from the Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) will have staff at both shelter locations to collect pets of residents seeking shelter. Dogs, cats, birds and pocket pets will be accepted. Agricultural animals and reptiles will not be accepted. You have to bring the pet's carrier and must be up to date on its vaccinations.

The Freedom House Conrad Center is open for those who are homeless. It's at 1400 Oliver Hill Way. 

As Sandy takes aim at central Virginia, city leaders say preparation and communication will be key to handling whatever damage it may bring.

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