The following email has been updated with additional and timely resources related to Hurricane Irene. The resources will continue to be updated at http://www.forbes.house.gov/ConstituentServices/hurricaneirene.htm
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This weekend, as Virginians are preparing for Hurricane Irene to make landfall, there are practical steps you can take before for the storm and afterwards to secure your home to ensure adequate safety.
The Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response, along with the Virginia Department of Transportation, has created preparedness videos on hurricane evacuations and emergency supplies that can be viewed on YouTube or at www.ReadyVirginia.gov. You can keep Dominion Power's number (866) DOM-HELP or (866) 366-4357 on hand to report outages or downed lines. For general information about the storm, you can dial 211. In addition, I have compiled a list of resources to help you this week before, during, and after the hurricane.
Be sure to print this article, and the following web resources, in the case you cannot access it due to a power outage.
BEFORE AND DURING THE STORM
Hurricane Safety Checklist. Review this Hurricane Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross to prepare for the dangers of a hurricane.
Compile an Emergency Kit. Use this downloadable checklist to ensure you have necessary supplies on hand.
Evacuate or Stay Put. Listen to the local authorities via your local radio or television and follow their guidance. If you have not been asked to evacuate, determine whether your home or work is safe. You can follow these guidelines from Ready.gov.
Track the Storm. Follow NOAA on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov) or Twitter (@usnoaagov) to get updates on Hurricane Irene.
Closings and Cancellations in Hampton Roads. View the latest closing and cancellations as a result of Hurricane Irene.
Subscribe to alert services. Many communities have developed systems that will send text messages or emails alerting you to local emergencies or bad weather. Check the community information page to find ways that you can be alerted for hurricane situations or sign up for local alerts:
Phone: 804-561-3914/ 804-561-3039
Emergency Website: http://www.ameliacova.com/department/view/24/
Emergency Website: http://www.brunswickfireandrescue.org/hurricanes.html
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts: https://www.brunswickalert.com/index.php?CCheck=1
City of Chesapeake
Emergency Website: http://www.chesapeake.va.us/services/depart/fire/em/emergman.shtml
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.chesapeake.va.us/services/citizen_info/chesapeake_alert/index.shtml
Phone: Friday before 5pm: 804-748-1000, otherwise use 804-751-4966
Emergency Website: http://www.chesterfield.gov/EmergencyManagement.aspx?id=2586
City of Colonial Heights
Emergency Website: http://www.colonial-heights.com/EmergencyCommCenter.htm
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.colonial-heights.com/EmergencyCommCenterCodeRed.htm
Emergency Website: http://www.dinwiddieva.us/Emergency%20Notification%20System/index.asp
Sign up emergency alerts: https://portal.blackboardconnectcty.com/welcome.aspx?eiid=1207B6088C3770A26B7E
City of Emporia
Phone: 434- 634-4500
City of Franklin
Phone: 757- 562-8581
City of Hopewell
Emergency Website: http://www.hopewellva.gov/data/publish/codered.shtml
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts: https://cne.coderedweb.com/Default.aspx?groupid=sUVLTJ7H04b6b%2bcahCtlcw%3d%3d
Isle of Wight County
Emergency Website: http://www.co.isle-of-wight.va.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=622&Itemid=84
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.co.isle-of-wight.va.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=624&Itemid=84
Emergency Website: http://www.nottoway.org/emergencies.shtml
City of Petersburg
Emergency Website: http://www.petersburg-va.org/index.asp
Emergency Website: http://www.powhatanva.com/emergency.htm
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.powhatanva.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7BCB454DDC-CFE5-4963-95FB-83C07A4292AD%7D
Prince George County
Emergency Website: http://www.princegeorgeva.org/index.aspx?page=107
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.princegeorgeva.org/Index.aspx?page=704
Emergency Website: http://www.southamptoncounty.org/
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts: http://www.southamptoncounty.org/codered.asp
City of Suffolk
Emergency Website: http://www.suffolkva.us/em/
Emergency Website: http://sussexcounty.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B81880870-2ABE-413B-9909-6ECC6D90EA85%7D
Preparing for Power Outages. Dominion Power suggests updating your account with the phone number you plan to use when reporting your outage. This step will ensure immediate access of your account for faster reporting without having to speak to someone. Phone numbers can be updated on-line or by calling the special phone number update line - 1-800-222-0401.
Charge Cell Phones and Laptops. Make sure cell phones and laptops are fully charged so they can be used in the event of a power outage.
During the storm, if electricity is interrupted. Dominion Power offers these practical tips for dealing with power outages during the storm.
-Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
-Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.
-Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
-Frozen food can last up to three days. It is safe to eat if it still has ice crystals at the center.
-If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.
AFTER THE STORM
Coping with power outages. This site from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights healthy steps you should take to ensure food, water, and home safety after an extended power outage. Tips on the site address everything from guidelines on what to do with food in your freezer or refrigerator, to water purification procedures, to carbon monoxide poisoning protection.
Get Up-to-the-Minute Updates on Twitter. Follow Dominion Power (@DomVaPower) and Southeastern Virginia's Red Cross (@RedCrossSEVA) for regular updates and alerts after the storm.
Servicing your septic system. Once storm waters have receded, there are several things homeowners should consider regarding their septic systems. This site from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers frequently asked questions and answers on servicing septic systems after flooding. The site also includes links to contact information if assistance is needed from local health departments.
Managing flooding and mold. This site from the Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to providing information on cleaning up your home or office after a storm that has resulted in flooding, including addressing standing water and wet materials. The site offers basic information on addressing viruses, bacteria, and mold that can occur in the wake of a flood.
Removing fallen branches and trees. The CDC provides tips to help safeguard against injury as a result of removing fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches, including information on properly using chainsaws in hazardous conditions.
Saving family treasures. These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family's most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms.