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Gov. Terry McAuliffe called a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss impending storms this weekend.
Hurricane Joaquin, upgraded Thursday to a Category 4 storm, is the secondary concern for the time being as state and local officials prepare for the more immediate effects of an ongoing cold front system that will cause heavy rainfall prior to Joaquin’s arrival.
The current storm, which has been impacting the region since Tuesday, has already caused nine roads throughout the state to be washed away entirely, while 57 are still closed.
“We are in a very unique situation,” McAuliffe said. “Normally with just a hurricane we might talk about moving folks out. We cannot move folks out to areas that are flooded.”
Though it is still too early to tell if Joaquin’s effects on the Commonwealth and the Historic Triangle will be significant, the possibility of severe flooding if the storm systems coincide is significant.
“If these two patterns come together it will be a major event for the Commonwealth of Virginia, something unlike we have seen in a very long time,” McAuliffe said.
The governor emphasized the state is prepared even in the event some regions feel the full force of both storms. Eight hundred members of the National Guard are available to assist as needed throughout the state, and all Virginia State Police personnel are available to respond to emergencies.
Additionally, 2,500 employees from the Virginia Department of Transportation are on call to maintain the roads. At this time VDOT does not anticipate needing to close any tunnels statewide with the possible exception of the Midtown Tunnel in southern Hampton Roads.
The state’s emergency operations center will be staffed around the clock from now until the incident is over.
The Historic Triangle is already taking action to prepare for the predicted 4 to 10 inches of rain now through Sunday, with the City of Williamsburg declaring a state of emergency at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Businesses and residents in the city can sign up for emergency text alerts here.
York County has opened two county public parking lots to the public for residents who are concerned about their vehicles being affected by flooding or other storm damage on their property. The lot at Kiln Creek Park and the lot at McReynolds Sports Complex will be open from now through the weekend, though residents should be aware the county will not be liable for any damage to the vehicles in those lots.
James City County also declared a state of emergency as of Friday morning, in addition to sending out a release Thursday afternoon advising residents to stock up a three-day supply of food, water and medication, cash and other supplies. County residents can sign up to receive emergency texts here. Spanish-speaking residents can find pertinent emergency preparedness information here.
The Heritage Humane Society reminds pet owners not to overlook their animal companion’s needs when preparing for the potential storm.
In addition to checking WYDaily for the latest weather updates, residents can also tune into 92.3 The Tide for up-to-the-minute coverage of road closures, business and school closures and other important information as Joaquin approaches the Greater Williamsburg area.
Reporter Kirsten Petersen contributed to this article.