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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Super storm predicted: Prepare now

With a possible “Frankenstorm” heading our way, it would be a good idea to prepare for the worst.

The National Weather Service says the most likely scenario for our area is a slow, long-lasting system with tropical storm winds, heavy rain/flooding, and moderate tidal flooding. With a direct hit, we would experience significant flooding, power outages, and tropical storm winds.

The following information is from various Fairfax County sources:

Useful phone numbers:
9-1-1, for police, fire, and rescue (life-threatening emergencies only)
Public safety non-emergency: 703/691-2131
Fairfax County emergency information line: 703/817-7771
Dominion Power: 1-866/DOM-HELP(1-866/366-4357)
Washington Gas: 1-800/752-7520
To report downed trees to VDOT: 1-800/FOR-ROAD
Fairfax Water: 703/698-5800
Verizon Customer Service: 1-800/VERIZON (837-4966)
Cox Customer Service: 703/378-8422
 Fairfax County Stormwater Management Division: 703/877-2800
To report non-emergency flooding, call Fairfax County Wastewater Collection Division Trouble Response Center: 703/323-1211
Fairfax Water: 703/698-5800 (after hours, call 703/698-5613)
Falls Church Water: 703/248-5071 (after hours, call 703/248-5044)

To subscribe to Fairfax County emergency information email updates:

Some useful links for the public during storms:
Dominion Virginia Power Storm Center:
Virginia Department of Emergency Management:
Federal Department of Homeland Security:
National Weather Service:

Fairfax Connector operational updates:

Recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:
  • Water—one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food—at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Communications—a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps

Things to do to prepare for the storm:

  • Make sure all your devices are charged.
  • Set up an online account with Dominion at (search: MYA) so you can easily report an outage and obtain outage updates online without having to call in (search: reporting outages)
  • Make sure the telephone number and other information related to your account are up to date and provide a cell phone number. Call 800/222-0401 to update your phone numbers.
  • Bring in or secure garbage cans, lawn furniture, and other items that could be blown by high winds or become dangerous projectiles. Pets should also be brought inside for their safety.

Prevent flooding and sewer backups in homes and businesses by taking the following steps:

  • Clear leaves, storm drains, and sewer openings to prevent clogging.
  • Check gutters and downspouts; clear debris from them if necessary.
  • Inspect sump pumps to ensure they are working properly.
  • Move furniture and other items from basements to upper floors if located in areas prone to flooding.

If you experience an outage:
  • Report it and then turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters, and stoves. 
  • Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves, and computers. This will help protect the appliances and prevent possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
  • If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated. 

For information on developing an evacuation plan, visit
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • Identify several places you could go in an emergency, such as a friend’s home in another town, a motel, or public shelter.
  • If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Lock the door behind you.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
  • If you are not able to evacuate, stay indoors away from all windows. Take shelter in an interior room with no windows if possible. Be aware that there may be a sudden lull in the storm as the eye of the hurricane moves over. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it is safe.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be alert for tornadoes and flooding. If you see a funnel cloud or if local authorities issue a tornado warning take shelter underground, if possible, or in an interior room away from windows. If waters are rising quickly or local authorities issue a floor of flash flood warning, seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after the hurricane and after flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated.
After the storm: 
  • Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas, and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Do not hook generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backwards onto our power lines and endanger repair crews. The correct, safe technique is to plug directly into the generator with proper-sized extension cords.

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