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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Prepare for Hurricane Florence

The projected path of Florence, as of Sept. 11. [National Hurricane Center]
As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas, Fairfax County urges residents to prepare for possible flooding.

While major winds are not expected to be a problem, Fairfax County could get four to eight inches of rain beginning late Thursday into early Friday, according to the county government’s Preparedness, Response and Recovery website. That could result in major flooding over the weekend due to the rain already received in recent days and especially if Florence stalls over land.

Rain and flooding could last into next week as flood waters from the north and west move downstream.

UPDATE: The Fairfax County Department of Public Works is giving out 10,000 sandbags. They can be picked up at four locations – the Mount Vernon RECenter, Pohick Regional Library, Reston Regional Library, and McLean Government Center  Sept. 12 until 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sept. 13 or until they run out. You can make their own by filling plastic bags with sand or soil.

The county government reminds people to and never drive through flooded roadways and not let children play in or near streams.

Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry off an adult, 12 inches of water can float a small car, and 18 to 24 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including large SUVs.

Flooding is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities in the U.S. On average, flooding claims nearly 90 lives each year. More than half of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways.

Make sure your devices are charged. Here are some more things you can do to prepare for Florence:
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts before the storm arrives.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Rain-saturated ground increases the risk for falling trees.
  • If you have a sump pump, make sure it is working and that the outlet pipe is not blocked. If possible, install a battery-operated backup in case of a power failure.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, move important valuables to the highest possible floor.
  • Tie down loose items outside or properly store them to prevent damage.
  • Check in on elderly neighbors to see if they need assistance to prepare for the storm.
  • Check your emergency supply kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, such as medications. Be sure to you have extra batteries and flashlights in case you lose electricity.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank in case you need to evacuate your home or seek shelter elsewhere.
  • Review your family’s emergency plan. Does your family know what to do or where to go in case of an emergency or localized flooding? And be sure you know what to do with pets.
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Sign up for severe weather alerts from Fairfax Alerts. You can receive these alerts by email and text.
If you lose power, report it here. Turn off major appliances, such as air conditioners, water heaters, and stoves. Unplug TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers to prevent damage during possible overloads. Leave a lamp or light on so you’ll know when power is restored.

Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume the lines are energized and make sure to report them by calling 866-366-4357.

To report a blocked storm drain: During regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.), call 703-877-2800. To report after-hours storm flooding emergencies that are not life threatening, call 703-323-1211.

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