Richmond, VA – Governor Bob McDonnell issued a statement Tuesday morning regarding the state's recovery efforts from Friday's windstorm. He asks that residents continue to check on their family and friends as high temperatures continue across Virginia.
Here are the latest updates from the governor's office:
As of 6 a.m., power companies are reporting that approximately 286,000 customers are without power statewide, a decline of 123,300 since 6 p.m. yesterday. At the height of the outages, some 1.2 million customers were without power. Power companies report that it will take the rest of this week and into the weekend for full power restoration. All hospitals are back on grid power. The number of storm-related fatalities has increased to 11, with the addition of a fatality in Loudoun County.
"We are seeing outage numbers decline, and the power companies are working around the clock with extra staffing," said Governor McDonnell. "But the intense heat combined with lack of power continues to be a real and ongoing safety concern for us. Residents should do all they can to stay cool and to care for neighbors, friends and family who may not have power. We continue to work very closely with the utility and communications companies to assure every effort is being made to get all systems back on line as quickly as possible."
Current state efforts to respond to the aftermath of the derecho include:
• The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is augmented with staff from various state agencies who are coordinating requests for assistance from local governments and providing resources as needed.
• The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has coordinated delivery of 62,000 gallons of water to Charlottesville and Albemarle, Alleghany, Bedford, Botetourt and Page counties. Fourteen generators have been delivered to Bath, Botetourt, Highland and Rockingham counties and the town of Vinton and city of Covington. Heavy equipment has been provided to Albemarle County and Charlottesville, and advanced life support ambulances from Halifax and Chesterfield counties have been provided to Alexandria.
• VDEM has set up an event blog to record agency response, track the opening of cooling centers and provide information to the public at www.virginiaderecho.tumblr.com
• The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) continues to coordinate with utility workers to remove downed trees and debris from roads so that power lines can be repaired. There are 15 primary roads (numbers 1-599) and 159 secondary roads (numbers 600 and above) closed. Where traffic signals are without power, drivers should treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Call 511 or visit www.511virginia.org for road conditions and report road issues to 1-800-FOR-ROAD.
• The Virginia National Guard has 115 personnel staged in Fredericksburg, 30 in Lexington and 20 in Winchester who are checking traffic routes, assessing damage and providing residents with information about local cooling centers. Also, 10 VNG personnel are assisting with water and ice distribution in Bedford County.
• The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is providing timely public health messages about food safety, heat-related illness and safe debris removal.
1. A total of 11 storm-related fatalities have been confirmed in Virginia: two in Albemarle County, two in Bedford County, one in the city of Chesapeake, three in Fairfax County, one in Loudoun County, one in Montgomery County and one in the city of Roanoke.
2. Virginians should take precautions from the effects of high heat:
1. Keep cool in an air-conditioned area. Visit malls, local libraries, local cooling centers, or stay with friends or family who have air conditioning.
2. Take cold baths and showers to cool down.
3. Drink 2-4 glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour, regardless of your activity level.
4. Be aware that fans by themselves in extreme temperatures are not enough to prevent heat-related illnesses.
5. Those with immediate need for shelter, food or water should check with local social services departments, county or city governments, or volunteer groups for assistance.
3. Virginians should take precautions for food safety.
1. If your power has been out for 48 hours or longer – and you have not made other provisions for keeping your food at or below 41 degrees F – do not eat it.
2. Food must be kept at 41 degrees F or below before cooking or eating it. If you do not have a thermometer to track temperature or you are not sure, discard the food.
3. If you are using a cooler, ice needs to be replaced at least every 24 hours, and temperature must be kept constantly cold at 41 degrees or below for food safety.
4. When in doubt, throw it out.
Local governments are actively responding to the storm's aftermath:
• 40 localities have declared emergencies, and 20 local emergency operations centers remain open to coordinate assistance to their residents.
• 11 local shelters are open, although this number changes with need.
• Localities are opening cooling centers to provide daytime relief from the heat for their citizens. To find cooling shelters, people should listen to their local media, call their local emergency management officials or go to www.virginiaderecho.tumblr.com
Many volunteer groups are busy in heavily-impacted areas:
• Volunteers are assisting Virginia Dominion Power with distribution of truckloads of donated water.
• Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia Disaster Relief is supporting a shelter in Lynchburg and providing chain saw service.
• Mercy Chefs have provided a chef to supervise and assist with meal preparations in a Lynchburg shelter.
• American Red Cross and Virginia Baptist Mission Board Disaster Relief have established a feeding unit in Bath County, providing up to 3,000 hot meals daily.
• In Bath County, the American Red Cross and Virginia Baptists are providing meals, and Gleaning for the World has provided 500 gallons of water.
• Gleaning for the World and God's Pit Crew have donated truckloads of water and Gatorade, respectively.