The time is now: VDOT talks hurricane readiness ahead of 2019 season

Hurricane

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Now is the time to prepare.

That was main message from the Virginia Department of Transportation on Wednesday at a news conference ahead of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season — which starts this coming Saturday, June 1.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it expects a “near normal” season with nine to 15 named storms and two to four major hurricanes.

Last year saw 15 storms and eight hurricanes — two of which were major storms. The Atlantic averages 12 named storms a year, with six becoming hurricanes and three major storms.

A big part of hurricane preparedness has to do with the roadways.

VDOT is is making sure the flood gates on connectors like the Midtown Tunnel are in tip-top shape. They are also making sure drainage ditches are clear and evacuation traffic patterns are in place.

“We clean drains all the time,” explained Bill Collier with VDOT. “But we’ll go though and make sure one last time that we go through as thorough as we can and the drains and the pipes are clean on the interstate and certainly the evacuation routes.”

Members of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) team were also on hand at Wednesday’s news conference. They said the federal, state and local governments are ready — and they are urging the public to do the same.

This Sept. 11, 2018 enhanced satellite image made available by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Florence, upper left, in the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Isaac, center, and at right Hurricane Helene. (NOAA via AP)

Residents can get the latest storm coverage and updates through the WAVY Weather App.

“It’s a matter of when not if we are going to see a major storm. It might be this year. It might be next year. It might be 10 years down the road,” Jeff Caldwell with VDEM said. “Our region does need to be prepared for the devastation that’s going to happen here. And citizens need to be prepared on how they are going to get in and out of the area and how to remain safe during a hurricane.”

According to VDOT, their team began making preparations for hurricane season months ago.

Work includes reviewing response plans, checking equipment, testing tide gates at the tunnels and cleaning out storm drains. 

They’re also learning and sharing ideas from other response teams around the state. 

“Lessons learned from Florence and Michael, not only in this area but also from folks in other parts of the state that were hit heavier with flooding came and talked to us about issues they had so we make sure we don’t have those same issues,” Collier said.

Here are few things to keep in mind to be prepared:

– Have an emergency kit ready with things like essential medication. 

-Know your evacuation zone. You can find your zone by going to knowyourzone.org and typing in your address. 
– Plan ahead where you’ll go if you need to evacuate. 
– Purchase flood insurance, even if it’s not necessary for your property. Keep in mind flood insurance plans can take 30 days to go into effect. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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