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Schools Close, Metro Suspended, Arlington Declares State of Emergency

by ARLnow.com October 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm 16,446 68 Comments

(Updated at 8:45 p.m.) Winds are picking up and rain is starting to fall, and Arlington County is taking steps to brace for the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.

All classes and activities have been canceled Monday at Arlington Public Schools in advance of the storm, which is now expected to drop 5 to 10 inches of rain and pack wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour between tonight and Tuesday.

Metro has suspended all rail, bus and MetroAccess service starting Monday. Service will remain suspended “until further notice.” ART bus service has also been suspended Monday.

Many flights departing out of and arriving at Reagan National Airport on Monday have been canceled, according to the airport’s Twitter account, although the airport itself will remain open.

Federal government offices will be closed Monday, and non-emergency employees are being granted excused absences.

Arlington courts, libraries, community centers and government offices will be closed Monday. Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been suspended on Monday and Tuesday. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency.

From a county press release:

County Manager Barbara Donnellan today signed a Declaration of Local Emergency for Arlington County in response to Hurricane Sandy. The County is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to manage storm response. The hurricane is projected to impact the Arlington area with heavy rain and damaging winds from late Sunday night through Tuesday night.

This storm is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches in our area, which could cause localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams. The County expects significant tree damage, and residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result.

To stay informed, continue to monitor Arlington Alert , the County website (www.arlingtonva.us ), local news and weather stations, and all other news channels.

What Residents Can Do to Prepare

  • Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. (And consider plugging in your old-fashioned land-line phone.)
  • Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day. Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
  • Don’t forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
  • With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
  • Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. (keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches) so rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris and prevent clogged storm drains.
  • Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
  • If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.

More details on the County website  , including who to call after the storm, clean-up tips, handling home damage, and more. We will continue to update this page throughout the storm response; check back for updates or sign up for an RSS feed.

Emergency Winter Shelter Opening

The Emergency Winter Shelter  (EWS) at Courthouse will open today, Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3pm and will stay open as long as needed (it normally opens Nov. 1). A-SPAN is conducting outreach to let the homeless population know this resource is available.

Key Phone Numbers

Write these down or print them out so you have then handy in case you lose power.

  • Power Outages: Dominion Virginia Power, 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
  • Natural Gas Emergencies: Washington Gas 703-750-1400 or 800-752-7520. If you smell gas, leave and call 9-1-1. Washington Gas Safety Page 
  • Trees Down : 703-228-6525
  • Street Flooding, Water, Sewer and Storm-sewer: 703-228-6555 (emergency hotline)
    (Note: During high rains, call volume is often greater than normal. Operators will respond to your call as soon as they can.)
  • Traffic Signal Outages: 703-228-6511

Dominion Power Update

Dominion is currently expecting significant impact from the effects of Hurricane Sandy for much of their service territory. Their Northwest Regional Storm Center is regularly providing updates to government Emergency Operation Center (EOCs) in the region. Other news from Dominion:

  • Dominion will open its Northwest Regional Storm Center at 6AM Monday October 29.
  • 8,800 medical condition customers have been contacted via automated calling feature, in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, with the following message: This is an important message from Dominion. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, customers with medical needs should make preparations for extended outages. Participation in the medical needs program does not mean that you will be the first to have power restored. Please make an emergency plan for backup power or arrangements to relocate until power can be restored to your home. Thank you.
  • They are working to secure additional resources to complement line, patrol and support teams.
  • Additional tree crews are on hand to assist with restoration efforts.

Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Friday.

Utilities and transit agencies are also preparing for the storm. Dominion says its crews, and mutual aid crews called in from out of state, are standing by to restore power following the storm. The company is warning of the potential for “prolonged power outages,” however.

“When customers lose their electric service during a major storm, their primary question is when their electricity will be restored,” said Dominion rep Rodney Blevins. “They expect our bucket trucks and line crews to be in the field as soon as the storm ends, or sooner, but strong winds may make working conditions too risky to proceed while the storm lingers.”

Although service will be suspended after Sunday night, WMATA says it has been testing drainage pumping stations and has been placing sandbags at Metro entrances in preparation for heavy rains.

“Customers are strongly encouraged to check wmata.com before traveling and to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive service information via email or text message,” the agency said via its web site. “During severe weather, customers are advised to travel only if absolutely necessary.”

Arlington County has compiled a list of phone numbers and storm clean-up tips residents can use to check on power outages, to report downed trees and wires, and to deal with water damage. Those seeking critical assistance — like food, shelter or other aid — can also call 2-1-1, a central hotline for human service agencies in the D.C. area. Tips for keeping pets safe in a storm are available online from FEMA.

Photo (top) courtesy @JoePraino

  • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

    “Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been suspected on Monday and Tuesday. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency.”

    I agree this sounds mighty suspicious. There may be a link between the trash/recycling and the hurricane.

    • Bender

      Glad to know that in an emergency, we’re on our own in trying to move to safety or otherwise evacuate the area. Once again, notwithstanding its anti-car mentality, Arlington County is terminating all public transit, the same public transit that it wants us all to be completely dependent upon.

      • Josh S

        You make no sense. So you think it would be better to keep buses operating?

        And where, exactly, would you evacuate to at this late hour? It doesn’t seem that there is anyplace better to be within about a ten hour drive.

        (PS Arlington certainly did not make the call on WMATA transit.)

  • Right of Center

    > Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been “suspected” on Monday and Tuesday

    Now I think of it, trash pick up on Mon and Tues in my hood has been suspect lately.

  • Right of Center

    Wait. Should we all be more concerned about the guy in the blue shirt jaywalking in the picture? Or the gal walking/talking on her cell phone (just dont’ walk into any lamp posts in Fairlington)? Or the lady who clearly has taken a shopping cart off the Costco premises (quick, someone call the shopping cart police)? Or the unattended little boy who is pushing the xwalk button for the 11 millionth time?

    • Charles

      Be more concerned about the fuel being wasted by the line of SUVs… those people thought it was perfectly OK to avoid buying more fuel efficient vehicles. Typical Americans.

      • Hollywood

        I assume this is a joke, but in Arlington, I can never tell.

      • Unimpressed

        Call 1-800-waaaaaa to report your concerns about the SUVs. Geez…

        • drax

          No, that’s the number SUV owners call when gas prices go up.

          • Unimpressed

            HA! Great retort!! Well done!

          • Bon Air


      • NIMBY The Chicken

        It’s hard to do work at costco in a prius, Charles.

      • Lauren

        And they will the best equipped to evacuate the two kids with the required safety seats, the dog, the supplies for aloof them….can’t stuff all of that into a Prius…

  • Ashton Heights

    My entire neighborhood is raking leaves mere hours before a storm is about to hit. Madness, or simply occupational therapy?

    Also, everyone’s fake gravestones and pumpkins that are still out sideare going to make wonderful and morbid projectiles.

    • Dan

      I think that it maybe therapeutic…it does give you the feeling that you are at least doing something…besides you have to rake them sometime !!

    • malaka

      I live near Jackson St. There will be airborne skeletons in my yard I am sure.

      • JimPB

        Kudos — The Kaine campaign urged supporters to bring his campaign signs indoors during the Frankenstorm.

        • Unimpressed

          So that they will be readily available for use after the storm. More practical than honorable.

    • Loocy

      I was one of the rakers. I did it because I wanted to minimize the number of leaves that clogged the drains in my yard. It was also therapeutic 🙂

  • SouthArlJD

    What about the court system? Is that going to be open?

  • JK

    Anyone have any advice if your wife is due to go into labor any minute. If the roads are undriveable – do we call an ambulance?

    • Swag

      If the roads are un-drivable, what’s an ambulance gonna do?

    • ArlMama

      yes. I would. But call the OB or midwife or hospital for advice now.

    • Unimpressed

      Why would the roads be undriveable? Too wet? Too windy?

      • Captain_Obvious

        How about downed trees and power lines ?

        • Unimpressed

          Alternate route, perhaps? Not really rocket science…

          • Captain_Obvious

            I guess you have all the answers, answer-man, no matter how unimpressive they are. Glad you keep taking the time to respond to EVERY comment with your unimpressive wit.

          • Unimpressed

            You’re welcome!

          • Captain_Obvious


    • RealAdvice

      Not get her pregnant in the first place!

    • tumblebum

      I wasn’t even aware my wife was pregnant. Dadgum!

    • Me ke

      Seriously….when the barometric pressure so do baby’s …it used to be an old wives tale but there more evidence its true….make arrangement with her doc..now…and don’t be afraid to call 911…. Cops, fireman and EMT’s can all deliver a baby!!! Congratulations and lots of good luck!

    • Lisa

      I would consider a hotel near/at the hospital. If she is due right now, storms often have a way of bringing it on.

  • Chris B

    Call your pediatrician BEFORE the storm starts. They might bring you in early.

    • ArlMama


      • Chris B

        Ah, yes 🙂

      • drax

        Wow, that’s a mighty premature baby.

  • B22201

    So glad the homeless shelter is going to be open. Wouldn’t want the guy that was pissing on my building today to be stuck outside tonight.

    • JimPB

      But the Grace of God, you might be stuck outside.

    • drax

      Would be awful if a tree hit your building or there was a fire or something and you were left homeless.

    • Me ke

      Wow,,,you are classy and charitable in thought all at the same time

    • Rocket Surgeon

      … but it’s OK for d’bags to do it? Pee snob.

  • malaka

    Metro will be Closed….If Starbucks closes I’ll assume that civilization has effectively ended.

  • Chicken Little


  • Coppa

    Dang….we had planned on looting Lululemon once the storm kicks in.

  • Chris

    Anyone know if parking enforcement will be happening tomorrow? No Metro will require driving if my office is open.

    • Right of Center

      Of course. This is A-town afterall…home of the parking tickets

  • novasteve

    Will our Froyo supplies hold out??????

    Would the streetcar remain running?

    • Unimpressed

      The streetcar is the answer to all problems.

    • glad someone is asking the important questions

  • Just Me

    Why is Lululemon boarding up their store?

    • WM

      I would also like to know…

    • C. Zimmie

      It’s a need to know basis. If you need to ask, then you not need to know.

    • Just Me

      We are going to have a bad storm but its not like we are on the beach. I know of some places that will be open if they have power.

      • Rocket Surgeon

        Saw dude doing it at Walter Reed & Quebec. Hardcore.

    • drax

      Um, wind catches flying objects, which break glass.

    • Me ke

      JusT a smart precaution,,,,cheaper than have to replace the window should some blow through it

  • Loocy

    Should I be plywooding my windows?

    • Unimpressed

      Yes. And relocating to higher ground.

    • Just Me

      I don’t think you do. I will go on my balcony in the morning and secure things or bring them in.

  • ziv

    I spent a few minutes looking at Noaa.gov and the worst forecasted wind strength for the DC are is around 35 kts/40 mph around 5 pm to 8 pm today… And we are closing schools and the subway? Delaware and Jersey are going to get hit fairly hard, and there could be flooding as far north as New York City, but we are going to have a garden variety wind storm with lots of rain.
    Am I missing something?

    • ziv

      That should be ‘DC area’… My kingdom for an edit button.

    • Josh S

      It appears the forecast has changed.

  • Julie

    Average winds of 35-40 but with gusts of up to 70-75.

    • ziv

      Hi Julie, I hadn’t seen any forecasts for gusts other than one for “gusts may exceed 60 mph”, which isn’t much of a storm. If they do gust up to 75 mph that is a different story, 75 will pick stuff up that 60 couldn’t move.
      I think the derecho hit just over 85 mph inside the beltway and that was a completely different wind event than a “gusts may exceed 60 mph”, which is a typical, albeit strong’ish, wind storm. Interesting. I was just down at the Marine Corps Memorial and the workers there are moving quickly to strike the tents and remove the metal gateways that are still there from the Marathon. I could just see those tents flying off like the house in the wizard of oz…


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