VIRGINIA BEACH — The Office of Emergency Management and City Manager’s Office are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best amidst the uncertain forecasts around Hurricane Dorian’s path.
Erin Sutton, the city’s emergency manager, briefed City Council Tuesday and addressed the challenges the office is facing in the preparation for Dorian, but also how they are taking precautions and are ready to respond.
“Emergency management and the other departments are leaning forward because of the lessons we’ve learned in the past and we want to make sure that we’re paying attention to this,” she said.
After Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, Deputy City Manager Steven Cover said the office went ahead and drafted a local emergency declaration “should we need to lean on that.”
Sutton said the departments are looking to activate the Emergency Operations Center Thursday but are meeting daily to maintain continuous communication and will brief City Council daily on talking points to be shared with residents.
With the National Weather Service loosely forecasting 3 to 6 inches or more of rainfall, sustained winds of 35-45 mph with gusts of 60-70 mph, Sutton said she’s keeping an eye on “upwards of 4 or 5 feet” of storm surge and “moderate to major” coastal flooding concerns.
The Hurricane Warning has been extended northward to the North Carolina/Virginia border, including Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. The warning now runs from North of Savannah River to the NC/VA border and the above sounds. More on #Dorian is at https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/BlG6Q4BMFk
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 4, 2019
Sutton noted storm drain pumping, checking equipment and fuel levels, and staffing models are all underway.
Marine assets and high water vehicles have been assembled and on are standby at fire stations in flood-prone neighborhoods, Cover said.
The office has also been in communication with local schools where “Tier 1” shelters are ready to open if needed and FEMA teams are scoping out Naval Air Station Oceana and Norfolk Naval Air Station as locations for “resource positioning.”
City officials are bringing back the successful “fill your own sandbag” program starting Sept. 4 when residents can bring their own bags and shovels to the Virginia Beach Sportsplex in preparation for the storm.
To stay informed on Hurricane Dorian or learn how to sign up to receive alerts from the City of Virginia Beach, click here.
And, in Norfolk
Crews and the Department of Emergency Preparedness & Response are paying less attention to Dorian’s cone and are focused on the heavy wind and flooding the storm will surely bring.
“There’s a good chance we’ll see downed limbs, trees, and power lines which means power outages,” said Jim Redick, Department of Emergency Preparedness & Response director.
Public Works trucks have been out since last Friday, Redick said, doing everything in their to minimize flooding, “but there’ll still be flooding.”
#NorfolkVA public works crews are clearing drains and ditches today and throughout the week ahead of #HurricaneDorian. Be sure to make your preparations too and remember, do not drive through flooded streets! pic.twitter.com/fn5nrtxQDG
— City of Norfolk, VA (@NorfolkVA) September 3, 2019
To prepare, officials have asked residents to ensure curbs, gutters, and ditches on their properties are clear of debris.
Recycling and bulk waste collections are suspended on Friday, Sept. 6 “due to high winds and flooding risks,” officials said in a news release.
Waste collection schedules are “subject to change depending on Dorian’s speed and path,” officials said.
Pace bikes and Lime scooters are also being removed in preparation for the storm.
Redick also said city leaders are coordinating shelters for residents in low-lying and flood-prone neighborhoods.
“The Governor isn’t evacuating the regions, but we in the localities know best where low lying areas are and Norfolk Alert is the best way for us to contact residents with actionable information,” he said.
City parking garages are also opening starting Thursday through noon Saturday where residents can move their cars to higher ground.
Parking garages at Old Dominion University are also opening to residents through 8 a.m. Monday.
These garages will be open for parking on Sept. 5:
• York Street Garage, 215 West York St.
• Fountain Park Garage, 130 Bank St.
• Main Street Garage, 230 East Main St.
• Freemason Street Garage, 161 West Freemason St.
• West Plume Street Garage, 135 West Plume St.
• Town Point Garage, 110 West Main St.
Register to receive official communications from the city through Norfolk Alert by clicking here.