Officials prepare for Hurricane Isaias, remind residents of safety tips

Weather

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Officials are reminding the public about storm preparation and offering tips as Hurricane Isaias is set to hit the Hampton Roads region by late Monday into early Tuesday.

The City of Virginia Beach is continuing to monitor the weather system which could potentially bring heavy rain, rough surf, strong winds, and possible flooding to the area —  especially along the Chesapeake Bay and throughout the Southside Hampton Roads.

Virginia Beach officials have been conducting daily conference calls with National Weather Service (NWS) in Wakefield while working with its Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to continually reassess the storm and take necessary actions.

The city departments are preparing by checking storm drains, pump stations, testing equipment, and taking down banners and flags at the Oceanfront. They are also getting the staff and storm vehicles ready.

The Public Works Department has also installed the new “flip” warning signs to notify motorists of roadways that are subject to flooding. As the water begins to rise, the panels will indicate that there is high water and the road is closed.

Residents and staff can take a number of simple steps to prepare, including:

  1. Remove and secure objects outside your home and business that may become projectiles during high winds. 
  2. Sign up for VBAlert VBgov.comVBAlert to get emergency alerts from the City of Virginia Beach via text message and/or email.
  3. Prepare. Visit Ready.gov for a good list of supplies to have on hand, including drinking water, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, a radio, flashlight and batteries, phone charger and blankets.
  4. Have a family emergency plan in place. Plan and practice evacuation routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
  5. Be informed. Learn more about steps you can take now to prepare for an emergency.

Boaters and Boat Owners

The Coast Guard is urging boaters throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic area to make preparations for Hurricane Isaias. The impacts are expected along the Mid-Atlantic area later this weekend and into Monday and Tuesday.

  • Stay off the water. 
    • The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed.
    • Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings, and small craft advisories.
  • Secure belongings in advance of the storm. 
    • Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage.
    • Boats able to be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding.
    • Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets, and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress. This also includes moving kayaks, canoes and paddle boards indoors. 
  • Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall and can create deadly rip currents even before a hurricane arrives. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by tropical storms or hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
  • Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.
  • Don’t rely on social media to call for help. People in distress should use VHF Channel 16 or 911 to request assistance whenever possible. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue event.

Dominion Energy Power Outages

Dominion Energy released a PDF sheet regarding the storm offering information on how to prepare for outages during COVID-19 and the hurricane.

“At Dominion Energy, we’re committed to providing the electricity customers need, while also managing the spread of the coronavirus. If you lose power, we will respond as safely and quickly as possible, but being prepared can make dealing with these events easier and safer for everyone, especially when many are now working from home,” officials said in a release.

Military Personnel

Navy installations in Hampton Roads began preparations on Friday for Hurricane Isaias. The Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) ordered Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness (TCCOR) Four (IV) for Hampton Roads late yesterday. This means sustained destructive winds of greater than 50 knots associated with a tropical system are possible within 72 hours.

“Our current priority is twofold – keep our personnel and their families’ safe, and protect our Navy ships, assets and infrastructures from the storm’s potential impact as it makes its way up the coast,” said Rear Adm. Charles W. “Chip” Rock, CNRMA.

“Our goal is to not only be prepared and ready, but also get back to normal operations as soon as possible to meet our ongoing mission. This takes a great team effort across the Hampton Roads area, and beyond, to ensure our goals are attained in advance of the storm.”

Navy installation preparations include:

  • Securing hazards and buildings throughout the installations
  • Protecting essential equipment
  • Moving small craft to safe havens
  • Topping off fuel in generators and government vehicles
  • Preparing sandbags
  • Designating alternate parking for flood-prone areas
  • Removing debris from drainage areas
  • Removing/relocating large items from the waterfront to more secure locations, such as brows and dumpsters

Military personnel are urged to check their Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) account and visit the Know Your Zone website for evacuation and shelter at home information. Personnel can also visit the Ready Navy website for more information.

Newport News Shipbuilding has begun preparations to ensure shipbuilders, ships, and facilities are prepared.

“We will continue to closely monitor the forecast, however, we anticipate remaining in normal operations,” said NNS President Jennifer Boykin.

If shipyard operations are impacted, updates will be communicated via the following channels: 

Virginia Natural Gas Tips

Virginia Natural Gas is monitoring the hurricane and how it may impact service operations and customers. The company has implemented its comprehensive emergency response plan, and crews are prepared for the storm.

“Safety is our highest priority for both our customers and employees, especially during these challenging times,” said Jim Kibler, president of Virginia Natural Gas. “While we have weathered many storms together, this year brings a different set of challenges for us. The circumstances due to the global pandemic may have changed, but VNG’s commitment to respond as safely and quickly as possible to any gas-related event due to Hurricane Isaias has not.”

Before the storm:

  • Customers are encouraged to know the location of their natural gas meter.
  • Virginia Natural Gas advises customers to leave their gas meter on to maintain proper pressure in the gas piping within their homes or businesses and to prevent water from entering the lines should flooding occur. Most gas appliances have safety valves that shut off the flow of gas automatically if the pilot light goes out.
  • Customers’ service should operate uninterrupted throughout the storm. Only Virginia Natural Gas or emergency personnel should turn the valve off. In cases of severe lightning, customers might want to unplug natural gas appliances to avoid possible electrical damage.
  • Customers are urged to report a natural gas emergency to the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency response line at 877-572-3342. The damage assessment and restoration process begins once the storm has passed, and it’s safe for crews to proceed with gathering information and determining the extent of the service needs in the affected areas.

During and immediately after the storm:

  • Natural gas is injected with a chemical odorant called mercaptan, which many people equate to that of a distinctive “rotten egg” type scent. If the odor of gas is present when you return to your home, immediately leave the affected area and call the 24-hour emergency response line, at 877-572-3342 from a safe location. Residents should never try to identify the source of a leak themselves.
  • If you smell gas, avoid using any sources of ignition, such as cell phones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices, motorized vehicles, light switches or landline as natural gas can ignite from a spark, possibly causing a fire or explosion.
  • If flooding occurs at a residence or business and the gas appliances are or have been submerged underwater, do not try to operate the appliances.
  • During clean up and repair after a storm avoid causing damage to the gas lines by calling 811 before digging. This also pertains to removing downed trees as they can become entangled with natural gas lines.
  • Following a weather emergency, ensure the gas meter is visible, and the area surrounding the meter is free of trash and debris. Mechanical equipment used after the storm to clean up a location may damage an unseen meter. If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call the 24-hour emergency response number at 877-572-3342.

If your gas service was interrupted as a result of a severe storm, restoration time depends on when water recedes in flooded areas and customers’ homes and businesses are free of standing water, and when Virginia Natural Gas personnel can safely enter homes and businesses, and appliances are easily accessible by technicians.


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