As Hurricane Florence gains strength in the Atlantic and bears down on the Carolina coastline, the storms impacts already are being felt in Loudoun County.
Fears that the area could be hard hit by heavy rains, flooding and power outages late this week have prompted a growing list of cancelations. Gov. Ralph Northam on Saturday declared a statewide state of emergency to begin preparations for the storm.
One of the first causalities of the storm is the popular Dulles Day Festival and Plane Pull, which had been scheduled on Saturday. That event has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The event is a major fundraiser for the Special Olympics Virginia and supporters are encouraged to make donations to help make up for the shortfall.
State and local governments have issued advisories to help residents prepare for the storm.
“While this storm is currently expected to make landfall on the Carolinas’ coasts, we should take this storm seriously,” stated Loudoun County Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Johnson in an alert Monday. “I urge residents not to underestimate the potential impact of Hurricane Florence locally and to take action now to prepare yourself and your families.”
The impacts could be more severe because the region already has experienced significant rainfall during the past week.
The county’s tips include:
- Know the Forecast
- Get the most current forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS), which has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook that includes Loudoun County. Follow NWS on Facebook and Twitter.
- Follow updates on Hurricane Florence on the National Hurricane Center website, Facebook, and Twitter.
- A Flood Watch means that a flood is possible in the area. A Flood Warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.
- Prepare Your Property: Reduce the Risk of Damage to Structures
- If possible to do so safely, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts before Thursday.
- Trim trees and shrubbery. Rain-saturated ground increases risk for falling trees. Consult a certified arborist if you need help.
- 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.
- Anchor any fuel tanks.
- Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor.
- Prepare for Power Outages and Potential Hazards
- Fuel and service your vehicles.
- Use generators in accordance with manufactures directions; remember to run generators only outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio. Keep your cell phones charged.
- Stock up on batteries, food that will keep, first aid supplies, drinking water, and medications.
- Have cash on hand in case power goes out and ATMs don’t work.
- Review your insurance policy.
- Check on your neighbors who are older adults to ensure they are prepared ahead of the storm and safe during and after the storm.
- Make emergency plans for pets.
- Tips on what supplies to put in your emergency kit are online at www.loudoun.gov/makeakit.
- Learn more about flooding preparedness at www.loudoun.gov/flood, which includes contact information for local utilities.
- Stay Informed
- Sign up for Alert Loudoun at www.loudoun.gov/alert to receive weather, news and traffic alerts by email and text.
- Follow Loudoun County Government on Facebook and Twitter.
- Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
- Take 50 seconds to watch this YouTube video—it could save your life.
- If you come to a flooded roadway, stop and do not cross. It is impossible to determine the depth of the water or the condition of the road under the water. It takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car and just six inches of water to knock a person down and carry them away.
Loudoun County has resources posted online to help. Visit www.loudoun.gov/hurricane to learn more about hurricane preparedness and visit www.loudoun.gov/ready for four simple steps to prepare for all types of emergencies.