Update at 12:40 p.m. — Arlington County says its Emergency Communications Center is now accessible from cell phones, but other problems may remain.
More problems with the county’s 911 system are being reported as the area continues to recover from Friday’s storms.
Arlington County says its Emergency Communications Center is “experiencing problems with 911 calls from wireless phones.”
“Verizon is working to fix the problem,” the county said in a brief statement. “Please call our alternate emergency number at 703-741-3035 for assistance if you cannot get through on 9-1-1 or go to your local Fire Station.”
As stated during a press conference with the head of the county’s Office of Emergency Management earlier today, Arlington’s non-emergency number, 703-558-2222, may also be an option for cell phone users to reach emergency dispatchers.
The election follows the normal order of School Board succession — Violand-Sánchez served as vice chair for this past school year, and the vice chair is typically then elected to the chairmanship the next year. This time around, however, a faction of the Board was said to be intent on re-electing Abby Raphael as chair.
Word that Violand-Sánchez might not become chair sparked a mini controversy over the past two weeks or so. On June 23, Gabriela Uro, the chair of the Arlington Latino Network, sent an open letter to the School Board (republished after the jump) expressing “deep concern” that Violand-Sánchez might be passed over for the chairmanship. Uro also wrote that the Board “appears to be split along racial and ethnic lines.”
In the end, the School Board voted 4-0 to elect Violand-Sánchez as chair at its meeting this morning. In a statement, Violand-Sánchez said she was “honored” to be chair and promised to work to “provide optimal learning environments” for students as the school system addresses significant capacity challenges.
“I am honored to accept the chairmanship of the Arlington School Board,” she said in a press release. “Arlington Public Schools is a great school system. We are proud of our phenomenal staff, students and our diverse community. We need to continue to focus our work in the next year within the framework of our Strategic Plan to ensure that every student is challenged and engaged, that we eliminate achievement gaps, that we recruit, retain and develop high quality staff, and that we provide optimal learning environments to our growing student population to meet the needs of the whole child.”
The Sun Gazette has more details about the “internal battle” behind the vote.
VDOT has lifted all rush hour HOV restrictions on I-66 inside the Beltway through Tuesday.
The agency says it made the decision to waive the HOV requirement today and tomorrow in order to “help ease delays on arterial routes due to signal outages.” Across Northern Virginia, VDOT says there are more than 80 traffic signals affected by power outages and about 50 roads closed due to downed power lines and trees.
Regular HOV restrictions will remain in effect on I-395 and on I-66 outside the Beltway. HOV rules on I-66 will also be waived on Wednesday due to the July 4 holiday.
Separately, the Office of Personnel Management announced today that it will extend its unscheduled leave/unscheduled telework policy through Tuesday for federal government employees affected by Friday’s storm.
The director of Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) says the county and utility companies are “making slow and steady progress” in the cleanup and recovery efforts following Friday night’s storm.
At a press conference today, OEM Director Jack Brown told reporters that Dominion is making “yeoman strides” to restore power to tens of thousands of Arlington residents. Despite the widespread power outages — 26,997 Dominion customers were without power as of 12:45 p.m., down from 68,000 Friday night — Brown said there has so far been no loss of life as a result of heat following the storm.
Dominion expects to restore power to 80-85 percent of customers by Tuesday night, and 90-95 percent of customers by Thursday night. Restoration works is being focused on high-density areas.
“It is a matter of priorities,” Brown said. “Eventually Dominion will get to the neighborhoods.”
Brown said power has been restored to most critical county infrastructure, but noted that Culpepper Garden, home to 276 low- and moderate-income Arlington seniors, is running on generator power and currently does not have air conditioning. The seniors are being kept in the facility for now while Dominion is being asked to prioritize power restoration to the facility, Brown said.
Brown encouraged residents who don’t have power to go to the county’s 16 cooling centers, its shopping malls, or its community pools. Arlington has set up a 24-hour drop-in cooling center at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.). Daytime cooling centers include other Arlington community centers and libraries, as well as the Ballston and Pentagon City malls. Currently the Yorktown and Wakefield high school community pools are open, while the Washington-Lee pool has closed due to a lack of water pressure.
“We need to pull together,” Brown said. “This event could last for several days, possibly a couple of weeks. Let’s check on your neighbors. It’s really about neighbors helping neighbors. Volunteer to transport those in need to county cooling centers.”
Brown said that all major county thoroughfares are open, although 19 county road remain blocked by storm debris. A dozen county crews are working to clear the debris, and debris pickup is expected to continue for the next 2-3 weeks, Brown said. Meanwhile, 39 traffic signals are still dark this afternoon (down from a peak of 96) because of power outages. Citing last night’s fatal pedestrian accident, Brown encouraged motorists to drive carefully on county streets.
“Please drive safely,” Brown said. “We really need people to slow down, particularly at these intersections. Please treat all… intersections [with non-functioning traffic signals] as four way stops.”
Brown said 911 service “remains spotty” in Arlington. He said residents who want to report an emergency should first try 911, then the county non-emergency number at 703-558-2222, then — if all else fails — seek help at the nearest fire station.
Verizon provides the Arlington’s 911 infrastructure and Brown said the county is going to investigate what went wrong.
“The county is going to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened to our 911 system… so we don’t have a repeat of this in the future,” he said. So far, he said, there have been no reports of anybody suffering serious consequences as a result of a delay in response due to a 911 failure.
Brown said that other county communications infrastructure has performed well. Despite some disruptions in the hours following the storm, Brown said cell phone service has been one of the county’s most reliable forms of communication. He noted, however, that the county’s radio systems did not suffer any outages as a result of the storm. Brown also said that RACES, the county’s emergency amateur radio network, was activated over the weekend.
All in all, Brown said he’s pleased with the response to the storm so far.
“The county’s resources have been stretched very thin,” Brown said. “I think we’ve done a good job of responding.”
Do you take off Tuesday or Thursday, giving yourself something of a mid-week weekend? Do you take two days off either before or after the Fourth of July, thus giving yourself a very long weekend? Do you throw caution to the wind and just take the entire week off? Or do you not take any time off work at all, and leave the easy long weekend for next year, when the Fourth falls on a Thursday?
How many days this week — including the Fourth — will you be taking off of work?
Flickr pool photo by Mennyj
A man had his lower leg impaled on the fence surrounding an apartment complex’s pool late last night (Sunday).
The incident happened between 11:30 p.m. and midnight at the Wellington apartment complex, at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street. The 29-year-old Arlington resident was was at the pool after hours and was under the influence of alcohol when he attempted to climb back over the fence, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The man slipped, fell, and was impaled on the fence through the left calf area.
Two people — a man and a woman — were with the man at the time and attempted to help him. The male friend of the victim helped to lift him and keep him from dangling upside down.
Police and firefighters arrived on scene with heavy technical rescue gear. Firefighters cut off sections of the fence and eventually were able to lower the victim down to a stretcher, with a piece of fence still attached to his leg. The victim was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax hospital.
Sternbeck said no trespassing charges were filed because police were unable to get in touch with the apartment’s management company.
As of 9:30 a.m. on Monday, 27,586 Dominion customers were still without power, down from 59,000 at noon on Saturday. The company says it has 4,200 employees and contractors working to restore power to customers in all affected areas, but notes that the huge scale of the damage is making restoration a multi-day process.
“Many poles and cross arms need to be replaced, and other infrastructure needs to be rebuilt,” Dominion said in a press release.
Verizon says it’s working “around the clock” to restore phone, internet and TV service. According to spokesman Harry J. Mitchell:
As with most services in the immediate aftermath of the storms — a situation faced by more than a million residences and businesses throughout the Washington metropolitan area — Verizon has been making every effort to assess damages to its facilities and immediately had crews working to get services back online. However, due to extensive commercial power outages across the entire region, our crews have had to deal with a number of technical and mechanical challenges, in addition to storm damage such as downed poles and trees on our wires.
A power issue in one of our Arlington facilities has created several issues that we’re currently working through, including difficulty some callers are having when dialing 911 in Fairfax and Prince William counties. These counties’ 911 centers now are receiving most calls, and we continue to work diligently to restore full calling to them.
We’re working late hours — often around the clock — and bringing in additional technicians from other parts of our service area to assist in bringing service back as quickly as we possibly can. We appreciate customers’ continued patience as we work to restore services in the wake of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
Comcast, meanwhile, is also facing significant service issues in Arlington in the wake of the storm. Last night many Twitter users reported that their Comcast TV and internet service had gone out, despite it working earlier in the day. According to Comcast spokeswoman Aimee N. Metrick:
At this time it appears most issues are directly related to commercial power outages, and for the vast majority of people, service should be restored as power comes back on to their homes. However, given the severity of the winds and rain that arose from this storm, we are also seeing some more extensive damage caused by falling trees, poles and more that will take longer to repair.
We are working closely with state and local emergency personnel and power companies, and have employees working across the footprint to assess and repair damage in impacted areas once provided clearance that it’s safe to do so. We appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding, and will continue to work until service has been restored for all.
With temperatures again expected to climb into the 90s, Arlington County’s libraries and community centers are open today as cooling centers for those without power. Among the centers that will be open are:
- Aurora Hills Community and Senior Center (10am-3pm)
- Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center (8 am-10:30pm)
- Carver Community Center (9am-9pm)
- Charles Drew Community Center (3pm-9pm)
- Fairlington Community Center (8am-9pm)
- Gunston Community Center (2pm-9pm)
- Langston-Brown Community Center (9am-10pm)
- Lee Community Center (9:30am-6pm)
- Madison Community Center (9am-9pm)
- Thomas Jefferson Community Center (6am-10pm)
- Walter Reed Community Center (8am-10pm)
Arlington’s libraries — including Central, Aurora Hills, Glencarlyn, Shirlington, Westover — are scheduled to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. today. Yesterday Central Library and Shirlington Branch Library stayed open until 11:00 p.m. to accommodate those who lost power. According to the library blog, some 600 people were crammed into Central Library yesterday afternoon. The fire department also set up a temporary spray park at Central Library to help kids cool off.
The Cherrydale and Columbia Pike libraries are closed today due to lack of power. Also closed is the Lubber Run Community Center, the Long Branch Nature Center, some schools and some summer camps. See a full list of county closures here.
Dogma Bakery in Shirlington (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) is remaining open until 9:00 tonight and welcoming pets and owners who need a cool place at which to hang out. Owner Sheila Raebel — whose own house is without power — says she has set up chairs and tables after finding out that other cooling centers weren’t necessarily welcoming pets.
“We had people who were asking about it,” she said. “We found out the county… doesn’t have a place for people with their pets to come when it’s really hot. There are a lot of dogs who are older and a lot of cats who can’t live in a place where it’s 85 degrees”
The store’s Lee Highway location is currently closed due to lack of power.
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
I-66 HOV Restrictions Lifted — To ease congestion on arterial routes, which might be affected by traffic signal outages from Friday’s storm, VDOT lifted the HOV requirement for I-66 inside the Beltway during the morning rush hour.
Federal Gov’t Under Unscheduled Leave Policy — With nearly a quarter of all electricity customers in the D.C. area without power, the federal government is operating under a Unscheduled Leave/Unscheduled Telework Policy for today, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
Tejada Still Thinking About Streetcar — Walter Tejada says he still hasn’t decided whether he supports the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Tejada says he’s concerned about the streetcar’s impact on affordable housing. ”Transit-oriented development has been cruel” to low income people in Arlington, Tejada is quoted as saying. [Arlington Mercury]
Bolivian Parade Held — Despite the sweltering heat and continuing storm cleanup, Saturday’s AGROBOL Bolivian heritage parade was held as scheduled on Four Mile Run Drive. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick