Arlington County Prepares for Hurricane Irene

by ARLnow.com August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am 7,957 29 Comments

Update at 11:55 a.m. — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in advance of the hurricane.

Arlington County is bracing for impacts from Hurricane Irene.

Irene, which is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit the Northeast in decades, could bring torrential rains and high winds to the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday night and throughout the day on Sunday. In anticipation of the storm, the county is “mobilizing both people and equipment,” according to Jack Brown, Director of Emergency Management for Arlington County.

The police, fire and parks departments will be bringing in additional personnel this weekend, Brown told ARLnow.com. The county’s 911 call center will also have additional employees on hand, and the Office of Emergency Management will be staffed throughout the weekend.

County crews are cleaning out drains to ensure the expected heavy rains will be able to flow into storm sewers. The parks department is removing picnic tables and other equipment from areas near streams and river beds, in anticipation of flooding. The county is also “developing plans for shelters, if the need arises,” according to Brown.

The county and Dominion Power both say they’re preparing for downed trees and power lines in the hurricane’s wake. The county has backup communications systems — including satellite phones and amateur radio stations — in case cell phones or existing radio systems go down during the storm.

“It could be challenging, yes, but since 9/11 a lot of steps have been taken to ensure better communications,” Brown said.

Most importantly, says Brown, Arlington is working to get information about hurricane preparedness out to the public.

“The first concern is the public safety,” he said. “If we do have impacts from this storm, people need to be prepared for that… It’s all about personal and family preparedness.”

Brown said any sort of evacuation of Arlington looks unlikely at this point. In fact, he’s encouraging people to stay at home.

“In most cases, people are better off just staying home and hunkering down,” Brown advised. “Don’t go out on the road… just have enough food and supplies to weather the storm.”

“We don’t want people out in the middle of a crisis getting in the way,” he added.

Additional hurricane preparedness tips can be found from FEMA, the National Hurricane Center and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

  • BerryBerryCold

    Not to be a party pooper, but shouldn’t the county already have plans for shelters, if needed?

    The county is also “developing plans for shelters, if the need arises,”

    • CW

      I think they mean logistics. They probably have shelter locations, but the plans they are probably developing are likely along the lines of “how do we get X gallons of bottled water from vendor Y to location Z in August 2011?”

  • Tre


  • brendan

    you nervous?

  • JimPB

    “bracing for impacts” — where? how?

  • not fun

    I remember Hurricane Isabel, and it was freaking scary. We were hiding in the basement. The wind was howling, and we heard transformers blowing in every direction..not something I want to relive again. I prefer gently shaking earthquakes, if we have to experience nature’s wrath.

    • Funny

      Isabel was awesome!!! Trees down no power. My trash can stunk, from the clams that had gone bad, for years. But it was a great storm. Tropical winds warming the Va. October. Bring it on Irene.

  • JamesE

    I just stocked up on two weeks worth of pizza and cupcakes

    • bb

      and dehydrated froyo…

      • m

        don’t forget the burgers

  • First an earthquake, and now this!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      @OB, you and your dog be safe and I hope your house holds up fine over the weekend. This is getting old, one [email protected] thing after another.

    • Southeast Ben

      The Mayans might just have been correct all along. Perhaps they had a rounding error?

      • Malthus

        This is not the end, only the beginning of the end 🙂

  • DR

    Ugh, we just had so much devastation in the Glebe Road area…

    • Old Timer

      Nothing compared to Donaldson Run.

  • Nunya

    anyone else not receiving their free copy of the gazette? are they still in business? i miss all the real estate ads.

  • Richard Cranium

    Time for the “French Toast Panic” – let’s mob the grocery stores and clean them out of eggs, milk, and bread. Oh, and can’t forget to stock up on T.P.

    Personally, I’m riding this thing out in the Donaldson Run area, where it’s predicted to remain dry as a bone.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I went to the Giant in McLean during my lunch hour and stocked up on some things. Figured tomorrow will be a panic day at the local drug stores and grocery stores. Stocked up on some bottled water, dried fruit, bread, batteries and TP. The bottled water aisle was half cleaned out. I can imagine what Friday evening and Saturday morning will be like at the local stores…packed mayhem, just like when a snow storm is predicted.

      • PhilT

        Home Depot (at 7 Corners) is moderately busy at the moment… They have plenty of bottled water and wet/dry vacuums, for now.

  • Garden City

    OK, I’ll admit I’ve only lived in Arlington since ’03, but could someone clue me in on the Donaldson Run joke?

  • Pablo Escobar

    Isabel rudely swept away Pablo Escobar’s boxers and decorative shirt, which were drying on the porch after an unfortunate Mickey’s accident.

  • Chouse

    Come at me bro!

  • laura

    i dont wanna die i dont know anything about hurricanes can someone explain this to me

    • Maeve

      We are inland and above sea level. You won’t die, unless you are stupid or incredibly unlucky. There will be more rain than you ever thought possible, and shrieking winds that go on for hours. Try not to park your car under any large trees. If you have a basement, prepare for the possibility of basement flooding (clear drains, move electronics etc upstairs). If you live near four mile run, or near any of the creeks, they may flood badly — don’t go out and about, and consider vacating low-lying apartments. Trees will come down. Prepare for the possibility of long periods without power or phone service. Have plenty of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, and ready made food. Stay away from downed power lines, trees, and rushing water (it will knock you over). Be sure your pets are inside and accounted for before the storm. Stay in touch with your neighbors. If a tree crashes into your house, or you lose a roof, get out of there and go to a neighbor’s house. Hopefully it won’t be this bad, but a level head goes a long way.

  • Kelly

    I’m also bothered by this statement:
    “The county is also “developing plans for shelters, if the need arises,” according to Brown.”
    I’m unable to find a list of locations that would be shelters for my neighborhood. I used to live near Glebe and HWY 50 and knew that TJ Middle School was a shelter but now I’m in a different neighborhood and have no idea where a shelter would be for me. I’m also not able to find a list of shelter locations on any websites using Google or looking at the Arlington County website. Can anyone direct me to a list of locations? I think these things should be clearly marked and linked!

    • Jack Brown

      My bad as the comment sounds like we don’t have plans in place. We always have shelter plans ready to activate. I was referring to staffing and other logistical measures that need to be in place before we open the doors. The Adult Detention Center at Courthouse (first floor), the Central United Methodist Church, 4201 N. Fairfax Drive ar ready. We will use T.J. if needed and have staff and equipment pre-deployed. We open shelters as needed and will publicize them via Arlington Alert, A.M. 1700 radio station, on the web, and over public media. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, a battery operated radio, food,medicines,water and anything else you may need for 3 days in case your power goes out. Unless your house is destroyed, I doubt you want to go to a shelter. They’re noisy, cramped, and really hard to sleep in, but when needed for public safety they beat the alternative. I The last time we opened a shelter was during the big snow and we got 1 visitor who took a shower and left. The time before we received 0 visitors. If residences are damaged to the point that they need to be evacuated the Fire Department will direct the evacuees to the closest shelter with Red Cross assistance. If you have a true emergency, call 9-1-1. If it’s something really important, but not an emergency, call our non-emergency line 703-558-2222. This storm will be over by day break and let’s hope we don’t have much damage or serious power outages. If we do, we’re ready. Red Cross, Community Emergency response teams, and the County are fully mobilized. We’ve been on top of this for several days, so stay home, stay informed and stay safe.

      Jack Brown, Director
      Arlington County Office of Emergency Management


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