State, local emergency officials prepare for Tropical Storm Ophelia

The city is also opening its public libraries as shelters during the storm.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -In Richmond, an emergency shelter for the homeless is now open on the first floor of City Hall.

The city is also opening its public libraries as shelters during the storm.

Across the state, emergency crews are currently staffed and working to ensure they are prepared to respond as this storm makes its way to the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is now in storm mode as Ophiela heads north.

“We get briefings several times a day, so we have situational awareness around that, and we can make informed decisions about how to preposition these resources to ultimately help the commonwealth not only get through this storm but also recover from it as well,” Katie Carter with VDEM said.

VDEM is preparing for possible flooding, power outages and wind damage from this storm.

Governor Youngkin also declared a State of Emergency, allowing state and local governments to mobilize quickly.

The Virginia National Guard is also on standby to deploy if necessary. “We’re constantly monitoring,” Stephen Willoughby, Director and Emergency Management Coordinator for Richmond, said. “All of our agencies and departments are on alert, [and] have created staffing plans to respond over the weekend.”

The City of Richmond is also working to get ready. Flooding is always a big concern with a significant storm. Crews were out Wednesday testing the floodwall.

“Some proactive measures we’ve put in place is we’re deploying barricades and signage where it typically floods, so those can be easily and quickly deployed,” Willoughby said.

The city is also urging everyone to have their emergency kits ready. “There’s a potential for power outages, so you want to make sure that you have enough water, batteries, flashlights, food. Remember you might not have power, so those nonperishable foods, just making sure you’re prepared for anything that could come,” Carter said.

There are also nine public libraries, the Marshall Plaza Building and the Southside Community Services Center, that will operate as shelters.