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Morning Notes

Hurricane Prompts Influx of Shelter Dogs from N.C. — “Dogs, cats and kittens were all transported from shelters ahead of the now Category 2 Hurricane Florence. They arrived… in Arlington Wednesday. Six dogs and two cats arrived from Hertford County, NC. Two dogs were adopted on-site. A total of 38 dogs and seven cats arrived from Florence County, SC. In total, 53 animals are now safe and sound in the D.C. area.” [WUSA 9]

PAC Raising Money for Female Candidates — Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol is among those expected to attend a “kick-off fundraiser” tonight for Brass Ovaries PAC, which raises money for first-time, female candidates for public office. [Tysons Reporter]

How to Pronounce ARLnow — FYI: the name of this site is pronounced “A-R-L now,” not “Ahrrrl now.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Hurricane Florence Update — The Tomb Sentinels at Arlington National Cemetery will remain on guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as they have for 81 years, regardless of what happens with Hurricane Florence. However, according to forecasters, “there is no need to cancel outdoor plans, events, or travel in the Washington region this weekend” due to the hurricane. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

DEA Lease Renewal Is Official — “The Drug Enforcement Administration will remain in its Pentagon City headquarters for at least 15 more years. The General Services Administration announced Wednesday it signed a 511,487 SF lease renewal for the DEA at 600-700 Army Navy Drive, two buildings owned by the California State Teachers Retirement System.” [Bisnow]

Neighbors Still Peeved Over Salt Dome Plan — “This is an emergency caused by rust. I know Neil Young says rust never sleeps but it doesn’t move that fast,” said Michael Hogan, president of the Old Dominion Citizens Association, regarding the “emergency” plan for a temporary salt storage facility next to the deteriorating salt dome near Marymount University. “This is just a terrible land-use decision.” [Washington Post]

Living in Arlington On a $80,000 Salary — Not much of interest happens in this millennial money diary, set in Arlington, but there is this discussion of tea vs. coffee: “I drink my third green tea. I’m trying to drink less coffee, so today I’m trying tea instead, but this is not cutting it. To all those people who say green tea gives them as much energy as coffee — I’m calling shenanigans.” [Refinery 29]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Memorial Bridge Closure Delayed — “Work on Arlington Memorial Bridge was scheduled to close all lanes this weekend, but with the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence, the National Park Service announced that the closure has been pushed back. Now, instead of Friday, the temporary closure of both sidewalks and all six lanes on the crumbling bridge is planned for 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 through 5 a.m. on Sept. 24.” [WTOP]

Economist Food Truck Comes to Rosslyn — Today The Economist is scheduled to bring its food truck to Central Place Plaza in Rosslyn from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The truck offers “a taste of the future,” including free meatless burgers. Also offered: a 12-issue subscription to the magazine for $12. [Rosslyn]

Bezos and Amazon Board in Town — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the Board of Directors of his $1 trillion company are in town for meetings and a much-anticipated speech at the Economic Club of Washington Thursday night. Some speculate the board is helping to evaluate the D.C. area as a possible location for Amazon’s second headquarters, while the company has denied rumors that Bezos will be making an HQ2-related announcement during his speech. [Washington Post]

AFAC Asks For More Cash — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has announced a special appeal to its donors, volunteers and the public to raise $50,000 to offset the funds lost when the Arlington government reduced its support… In fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the county government provided $50,000 in addition to the base grant of $477,925 to address a spike in families needing food assistance. The additional funding was not included in the fiscal 2019 budget.” [InsideNova]

Iota Book in the Works — The co-owner of the late, lamented Iota Club is trying to raise money online to compile a book showcasing memorabilia from the former Clarendon music venue. More than $1,000 of a $90,000 goal has been raised so far. [GoFundMe]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Arlington County Urges Residents to Be Prepared for Hurricane Florence

Over the past 24 hours, as Hurricane Florence has gotten closer to a predicted landfall on the Carolina coast, the risk of major impacts here in the D.C. area have decreased.

Currently, it appears that rain is the main danger. The 2-4 inches currently predicted could be enough to cause flooding locally, as the region is already waterlogged from well above average rainfall, but is a far cry from the 6-20 inches of rain predicted for large parts of southern and central Virginia.

Though it looks like we’ll be spared the brunt of the storm, Arlington’s emergency management department is urging residents to be prepared for the worst nonetheless.

The agency released the following set of hurricane preparedness tips yesterday.

As the Hurricane Florence gets closer, there is an increasing risk of direct impacts to our region. The major concerns with this storm are rainfall amounts and wind speeds. Excessive rain may cause flooding and as the ground becomes more saturated, it will be easier for winds to knock over trees and take down power lines. Be prepared for power outages. Do not report power outages to 9-1-1, unless there is a life-threatening emergency. To report trees or wires down or flooded roadways, you can contact the non-emergency number at 703-558-2222. Remember: do not travel through flooded roadways. Turn around, don’t drown.

The Arlington County Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management is encouraging all residents to prepare now for Hurricane Florence. Do not wait until the day before. Here are some tips to get you and your family ready:

  • Be Informed: Stay aware of things going on by having multiple ways to get information and keep an eye on the forecast.
    • Log into your Arlington Alert account to update your information and sign up for weather and traffic alerts.
    • Follow Ready Arlington on Facebook and Twitter
  • Plan Ahead: Make an emergency plan, and discuss it with each family member.
    • Plan for possible evacuation.
      • Fill your gas tank in your car.
      • Have cash on hand. During power outages, ATMs and credit card machine will not work.
      • Use text and social media when able to get in touch with family members and plan for what to do if there is no phone service or internet.
      • Have names and phone numbers of family members, utilities, doctors/pharmacists, etc written down.
    • Prepare your home:
      • Clear gutters and downspouts of debris.
      • Trim trees and shrubbery.
      • Secure or bring inside any outdoor furniture or loose items.
      • If you have a generator remember to only run it outdoors.
      • Place a thermometer in your fridge and freezer in case of power outages. Any food that has reached 40 degrees or higher should be thrown out. If doors are kept closed, food in the fridge will be kept cold for about 4 hours, and the freezer for about 48 hours.
      • Turn off or disconnect appliances. If the power goes out, a momentary power surge can cause damage.
      • Move items in your basement off the floor in case of flooding.
      • Review your insurance policy.
  • Build a Kit: Get supplies together that you may need for your family for at least 3 days. Make sure to include the needs of pets.
    • Have food that is nonperishable that does not require power to make.
    • Ensure you have flashlights and check batteries. Do not use candles as they can be a fire hazard.
    • Keep cell phones charged. Consider an external charger.
    • Refill medication/first aid kits.
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Video: ACPD Helps Out in Puerto Rico

In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, a dozen Arlington County Police officers volunteered to head down to Puerto Rico and assist law enforcement on the island.

The officers first arrived in November and were greeted by grateful residents. They came back with unforgettable stories to tell of their service to the community.

Among those featured in the video above is Det. Rosa Ortiz, who grew up on Puerto Rico before moving to the United States in 1984.

More on ACPD’s efforts during the Puerto Rico recovery effort, via a police press release:

In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria, one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record, roared through Puerto Rico. It completely destroyed the island’s power grid and caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities.

Some 1,560 miles away, the Arlington County Police Department answered the calls for help.

Twelve Arlington County Police officers volunteered to deploy to Puerto Rico, roughly a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean. ACPD’s officers deployed in three staggered teams between November 10 – December 18, 2017, and served the Puerto Rico community for 16 days each.

The officers directed traffic at critical intersections impacted by power outages, relieving this burden from the local officers, who could then focus on other law enforcement responsibilities. They made themselves a part of the community, offering support and comfort in desperate times. They selflessly served a community in need, and represented ACPD’s values of Duty, Honor and Commitment. But mostly, they wanted to help.

“I am proud that our officers are willing to dedicate their time to provide the citizens of Puerto Rico with an added sense of security in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” said Police Chief M. Jay Farr. “Our officers take an oath to serve and protect and their willingness to deploy shows their commitment and dedication, not just to the Arlington County community, but to citizens everywhere.”

The request for assistance came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), the national emergency management mutual aid system. Each of ACPD’s three teams provided traffic direction at the intersection of Route 66 and Route 3 in the town of Rio Grande, roughly 24 miles outside the capital city of San Jaun. Throughout their deployment, they served the Puerto Rico community, and were joined by other Virginia Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) teams from Prince William and Hampton, as well as teams from, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Florida, Houston and Montana.

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Morning Notes

Puerto Rico Pets Coming to Arlington for Adoption — Dogs and cats from Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, were flown from the island to the D.C. area over the weekend by Arlington-based Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. The pets arrived via van convoy to a hero’s welcome in Shirlington and are now up for adoption. [Washington Post]

Arlington Among ‘Best Places to Live’ — City ranker Livability.com is out with its 2018 “Top 100 Best Places To Live” list and Arlington has placed No. 35, one spot below Pittsburgh and one above Asheville, N.C. Arlington previously ranked No. 3 on the list. [Livability]

Lower Property Value Rise Will Cause Budget Challenges — “The year-over-year increase in real-estate assessments throughout Arlington came in lower than government officials had expected, which may cause problems for County Board members trying to avoid either tax increases or budget cuts.” [InsideNova]

More on Key Bridge Marriott Sale — The new owners of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn may benefit from the previous owner’s application to the FAA to construct buildings up to 470 feet tall on the property, which overlooks Georgetown and the Potomac River. The FAA application is “an indication it was setting the stage for the site’s redevelopment.” [Washington Business Journal]

Betsy Franz Leaves Leadership Center — Leadership Center for Excellence (formerly Leadership Arlington) founding President and CEO Betsy Frantz is leaving the organization in April to become President of the Virginia Hospital Center Health System Foundation. Liz Nohra, the COO of LCE, will take over as Acting President and CEO. [Leadership Center for Excellence]

Eviction Notice for TechShop in Crystal City — “A Jan. 18 eviction notice from the Arlington County sheriff’s department now hangs in the storefront of the maker space chain’s Crystal City location. The notice comes more than a month after San Jose, California-based TechShop announced it would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and then, a few weeks later, disclosed in early December it was reaching a deal to be acquired.” [Washington Business Journal]

County to Connect Building Owners and Investors for Sustainability — “All systems are ‘go’ for Arlington’s new ‘C-PACE’ program, a first-in-Virginia public-private partnership to provide affordable, long-term financing to improve energy or water efficiency of commercial buildings.” [Arlington County]

Reminder: Use Salt in Moderation — Prior to this morning’s rain, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tweeted a reminder to residents to avoid excess application of salt during freezing weather. “Use only as much as needed and no more to melt ice because this will wash into our watershed,” DES said. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Arlington Ready for Possible Snow — The chances of “meaningful accumulation” have since gone down, but Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews started applying brine to county roads Monday night in anticipation a “potential snow/ice this Wednesday evening/Thursday.” [Twitter, Washington Post]

VDOT Pleased With I-66 HOT Lane Data — NBC 4’s Adam Tuss tweets: “Doesn’t look like @VaDOTNOVA plans to change anything about the I-66 toll lanes. They say their data shows commutes were faster and more reliable.” [Twitter]

Dems Want Satellite-Voting Centers — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee could again be at loggerheads with the county’s elections office over whether to provide satellite locations for absentee voting in non-presidential-election years.” [InsideNova]

ARLnow T-Shirt Now Available — Need a gift for the ARLnow.com fan in your life? Show your Arlington pride with this long-sleeved t-shirt from the county’s No. 1 local news source. [Amazon]

ACPD Officers Helping in Puerto Rico — The Arlington County Police Department is among the departments nationwide sending officers to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to provide emergency assistance. The third ACPD team to rotate in is working on the island through Dec. 18. Officers who’ve gone say many challenges remain but there are hopeful signs as well. [Arlington Connection]

Westover Townhouse Battle Continues — Arlington County is weighing both a historic district and a “Housing Conservation District” for Westover, to protect aging but affordable garden apartments from being redeveloped into $800,000 townhomes. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

ACPD Helping Out in Puerto Rico — Arlington County Police officers are on the ground in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, directing traffic at critical intersections in areas without power. The officers were sent there as part of a national disaster mutual aid agreement. Local residents, meanwhile, have been expressing their appreciation for ACPD’s presence. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

Blind Triplets Utilizing New Tech — The blind triplets who recently made history by all becoming Eagle Scouts are also among the early users of new Aira glasses. The technology, launched in April, uses camera-equipped glasses to allow a remote agent to narrate what they see in real time, thus providing additional autonomy for the wearer. [Washington Post]

School Board Members Ditch Ties — At Tuesday’s Arlington School Board meeting, the two male members of the Board “committed sartorial faux pas,” in the words of the Sun Gazette, by not wearing ties. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

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Arlington Police Officers Deploy to Puerto Rico to Aid Hurricane Relief

Twelve officers from the Arlington County Police Department will be deployed to Puerto Rico to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria.

The officers will deploy in three staggered teams from tomorrow (Friday, November 10) until December 18. The teams will spend 16 days each in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico requested assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance.

“I am proud that our officers are willing to dedicate their time to provide the citizens of Puerto Rico with an added sense of security in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” Police Chief Jay Farr said in a statement. “Our officers take an oath to serve and protect and their willingness to deploy shows their commitment and dedication, not just to the Arlington County community, but to citizens everywhere.”

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Pets Displaced by Hurricane Harvey Arrive at Animal Welfare League For Adoption

Dogs displaced from Houston by Hurricane Harvey arrived yesterday (Monday) at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to find new homes.

National animal rescue nonprofit Best Friends Society brought 15 adoptable dogs to AWLA (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive) on its “Bobs From Skechers Roving Rescue Bus,” sponsored by the shoe brand. More dogs are also being taken to Atlanta and New York for adoption.

“Best Friends Animal Society has been on the ground taking care of pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey since August and opened the Pet Reunion Pavilion at the NRG Arena to reunite them with their owners,” a press release on the project reads. “Two months later, while some pets have been reunited or fostered/adopted to new homes, many are still in our care.”

Courtesy photos

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Beyer Urges Further Action After Puerto Rico Aid Package Passes

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says Congress must do more to help areas hit by natural disasters.

Beyer issued a statement yesterday (Thursday) after the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, which provides increased funding to disaster recovery programs.

Beyer’s statement also came after President Donald Trump threatened to pull federal relief workers out of Puerto Rico as the island struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.

In the statement, Beyer said:

I voted for this aid package to send support to Americans hit by natural disasters, but this bill represents the bare minimum that Congress can do to help, particularly with respect to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Following Donald Trump’s threat to abandon Puerto Rico in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, Congress should guarantee its full support to Americans suffering in the wake of natural disasters. Federal emergency management must not leave Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands until it has restored electricity and access to clean, potable water for everyone.

The aid package has $18.7 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. That includes $4.9 billion to help fund recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, as well as $676.6 million for fighting wildfires and $16 billion in debt forgiveness for the National Flood Insurance Program to pay claims from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

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Virginia Officials Warning About Buying Hurricane-Damaged Vehicles

The recent spate of major hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. has raised the possibility of flood-damaged vehicles making their way up to the local used car market, Virginia officials warn.

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are thought to have been damaged by hurricane-related flooding. That has prompted warnings from Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles and attorney general.

Although Virginia state law requires owners to report water damage when selling their vehicle, not everyone does. The AG and DMV have released guidelines of what to watch for when purchasing a used vehicle.

Their full statement is below.

RICHMOND (October 3, 2017) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are urging customers in the market for a new or used car to be on the lookout for vehicles with water damage in the wake of massive flooding caused by a recent onslaught of hurricanes that has damaged or destroyed countless vehicles.

“All Virginians purchasing a used car directly from another individual should have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic, but that advice is even more pertinent in the wake of massive flooding when the risk of purchasing a water-damaged car increases,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Virginians need to be on the lookout for signs of water damage when purchasing a vehicle, and should always trust their instincts – if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

“Nearly one-out-of-three car sales occurs directly between individuals,” DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said. “The dangers of water-damaged cars can be hidden. Aside from mold and rust, electrical systems could erode and fail over time. Computer sensors could be damaged and safety protections like air bags could fail in a crash.”

State law requires water damage to be reported on a vehicle’s title; however, dishonest sellers can find ways to circumvent these requirements, putting buyers at risk. If a vehicle is branded as non-repairable, the vehicle cannot be titled in Virginia, but a non-repairable car could be titled in another state. If a Virginian purchases that car and tries to title it in Virginia, the vehicle’s history would show it as non-repairable and the customer couldn’t obtain a title.

Virginia Code § 46.2-624 requires insurance companies to report to DMV when they have paid a claim of $3,500 or more on a vehicle due to water damage. Insurers are required to notify DMV of such water damage, even if the owner intends to continue driving the vehicle.

One tool consumers can use to check a vehicle’s history is the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). By centralizing national title records, NMVTIS can help customers take extra precautions to identify flood-damaged, stolen or otherwise unsafe vehicles prior to titling. For more information, visit vehiclehistory.gov.

While there is no sure method to test for vehicle flood damage, here are several inspection tips that may help detect significant water damage:

  • Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.
  • Check for recently shampooed carpet, and check under the floorboard carpet for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.
  • Look for rusting on the inside of the car and under interior carpeting, and visually inspect all interior upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.
  • Check under the dashboard for dried mud and residue, and note any evidence of mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.
  • Check for rust on screws in the console or other areas where water would not reach unless submerged.
  • Check for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses, and around the small recesses of starter motors, power-steering pumps and relays.
  • Complete a detailed inspection of the electrical wiring system, looking for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.
  • Inspect the undercarriage or other components for evidence of rust and flaking metal that would not normally be associated with late-model vehicles.
  • Ask a lot of questions and be thorough. Trust your instincts: if you don’t like the answers or the deal sounds too good to be true, walk away.

While these inspection suggestions will not detect flood damage in every case, they do provide some information to protect consumers from purchasing a vehicle damaged by floodwaters. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, always consider having it inspected by a mechanic.

Photo (top) via U.S. Coast Guard

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Kaine: ‘Deep Concern’ About Puerto Rico and the USVIs

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is calling for a stepped-up response to the post-hurricane humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Kaine joined 36 mostly Democratic senators in signing a letter to President Trump outlining steps to boost the U.S. government’s disaster relief efforts on the stricken Caribbean islands, which in many areas lack power, running water and mobile phone service.

More from a press release from Kaine’s office:

In the letter, the Senators wrote, “We write to express deep concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria recently knocked out the entire island’s electric grid leaving at least 3.4 million Americans with no power, decimated countless structures, and claimed the lives of at least 16 individuals.  Hospitals have no running water or basic supplies, and 95% of cellphone structures are still inactive.  As a result, we still do not have an accurate assessment of the destruction.”

“In the words of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, the people of Puerto Rico have been ‘essentially devastated.’  The United States Virgin Islands has also suffered catastrophic damage.  While they slowly begin their recovery, more help is needed.”

“At a time when there is not a second to lose and the health and well-being of millions of Americans in the U.S. territories depend on swift action, we have identified several areas where strong and decisive leadership is needed,” the letter continues.

The letter calls for eight specific actions to be undertaken by the Trump administration:

  1. Calls on President Trump to issue a full Disaster Declaration for the entire island of Puerto Rico, which has yet to happen.
  2. Calls on President Trump to appoint a Special Assistant for Rebuilding, to coordinate the multi-faceted federal efforts for Puerto Rico across all departments and agencies.
  3. Calls on President Trump to request more funding to assist Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.
  4. Calls on President Trump to utilize all federal resources to restore power, including sending Department of Energy experts; 500 utility employees; 100 fuel trucks; and 200 generators.
  5. Calls on President Trump to send more Department of Defense assets: construction battalions to repair power and transportation infrastructure, command and control aircraft for air traffic control; helicopters for search and rescue; and 1,500 service members to provide disaster and humanitarian assistance.
  6. Calls on President Trump to work with Congress to waive the local cost share requirement for FEMA public assistance disaster funding for all categories of FEMA public assistance.
  7. Calls on President Trump to send assets and expertise from across the federal government to restore communications, including from Department of Commerce, FCC, Coast Guard, and DOD.
  8. Calls on President Trump to ensure that FEMA, Coast Guard, and DOD work together effectively to restore all ports to working condition.

The letter was also signed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senators Nelson (D-FL), Markey (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Schatz (D-HI), Carper (D-DE), Hassan (D-NH), Bennet (D-CO), Durbin (D-IL.), Hirono (D-HI), Van Hollen (D-MD), Shaheen (D-NH), Booker (D-NJ), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Heinrich (D-NM), Menendez (D-NJ), Feinstein (D-CA), Murphy (D-CT), Blumenthal (D-CT), Coons (D-DE), Brown (D-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), Peters (D-MI), Wyden (D-OR), Casey (D-PA), King (I-ME), Murray (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Duckworth (D-IL), Stabenow (D-MI), Franken (D-MN), Harris (D-CA), and Leahy (D-VT).

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Arlington Puerto Rico Donation Drive Closes After Overwhelming Support

An Arlington County site for people to donate items to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico closed in just two days after overwhelming support.

Volunteers throughout the region are gathering supplies for United for Puerto Rico, a charity that provides aid to those on the island affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The hurricanes caused a loss of power throughout Puerto Rico, as well as extensive damage and flooding. Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello said it could take months for power to be restored in some areas.

But after filling eight trucks with supplies in just two days, Arlington’s collection point, Grace Community Church (1031 N. Vermont Street) in Ballston, is no longer taking donations. The effort’s organizer, Mariana Vicens, announced the news in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“Yesterday we packed two trucks and today we packed SIX!” Vicens wrote. “It was an incredible day full of support, love, encouragement, solidarity, and pure bliss! My heart is filled with love and I am so so so thankful for each and every one of you… from the people setting up and cleaning up at the end, the children distributing water and food, the packers, movers and greeters, the runners, the truckers, the people that cooked, the assembly line… you name it!!!”

(Vicens did not respond to requests for further comment.)

Photos from Sunday’s donation show legions of volunteers packing boxes to send to Puerto Rico, as well as non-perishable food and bottled water. Those wishing to donate have also been able to do so online through an Amazon wish-list. Other locations in the area are still accepting donations, which are then sent to the island with the help of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

Meanwhile, Dogma Bakery (2722 S. Arlington Mill Drive) in Shirlington is accepting pet supplies and cash to donate to Puerto Rico, including food, collars, leashes, dog beds and crates.

And in Falls Church on Saturday, the group Circulo de Puerto Rico will be collecting personal care items, non-perishable food and monetary donations during an “#SOSDC4PR” event at The Locker Room Bar & Grill (502 W. Broad Street).

“Bring your donations and stay over to cheer each incoming contribution. Bring you musical instruments and noisemakers to celebrate when donations come in!” said the event’s registration page. “The Locker Room will donate 15% of the food and drink sales during the event to the hurricane victims. Please share this information with as many people as you can.”

Photos via Facebook.

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Virginia National Guard to Deploy to U.S. Virgin Islands for Hurricane Maria Relief

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced today he will send 120 soldiers from the Virginia National Guard to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help with relief after Hurricane Maria.

The 120 soldiers are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will deploy in the next week to mission command headquarters. Up to 400 more will follow to conduct humanitarian assistance, clear roads and give out supplies to citizens.

It is the 10th time Virginia has coordinated an aid mission at the state level, not including efforts by religious and nonprofit organizations based in the Commonwealth.

The Category 5 storm destroyed homes and boats docked on the three islands. Four people were reported dead across the U.S. Virgin Islands; the power grid and other infrastructure was devastated and may take months to restore; and residents are in serious need of aid, which was slow to arrive after the hurricane passed.

“Virginia is ready to help communities facing the long road to recovery from the devastation wrought on their cities and towns by the recent hurricanes,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Commonwealth officials, the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies remain in close contact with our counterparts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We will continue to offer Virginia’s assistance for short and long-term recovery.”

More from a Governor’s Office press release after the jump:

Governor McAuliffe today has authorized the Virginia National Guard to send 120 soldiers to the U.S. Virgin Islands to join a multi-state, multi-agency response effort to recent hurricanes. The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to send needed supplies, personnel and expertise into the storm-ravaged areas to assist with recovery and give emergency managers on the ground a rest from the relentless demands of their jobs helping others deal with these catastrophic events.

An advance team arrived in the region on September 18, 2017, just before Hurricane Maria made landfall. The 120 soldiers authorized today are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and will deploy in the next week as the mission command headquarters to synchronize the response and coordinate logistical support. Up to 400 additional soldiers are scheduled to follow soon after to conduct humanitarian assistance, clear roads, and distribute essential supplies to citizens. Virginia National Guard soldiers will be deployed on the ground by the U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp to get assistance where it is most needed.

“Virginia is ready to help communities facing the long road to recovery from the devastation wrought on their cities and towns by the recent hurricanes,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Commonwealth officials, the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies remain in close contact with our counterparts in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We will continue to offer Virginia’s assistance for short and long-term recovery.”

Virginia has coordinated 10 missions of aid to these regions, not including countless assistance efforts coordinated by religious and non-profit organizations based in Virginia. The largest single mission is readying to deploy this week, including the hundreds of Virginia National Guard personnel deploying to the Virgin Islands to assist with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

“The Commonwealth has been able to send needed personnel and supplies into impacted areas to make a difference in the recovery efforts and we will continue to do so for many days and even weeks to come as these impacted areas rebuild,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The devastation to the southeastern parts of our country caused by these storms is of historical proportions.”

“We have been leaning forward and keeping a watchful eye on what has happened in Texas and Florida, and we have assembled a great team of professionals who want to get on the ground and start helping people in the Virgin Islands,” said Colonel Scott Smith, commander of the 116th. “We are conducting detailed planning to make sure we have the right skill sets and capabilities to provide assistance.”

Since Hurricane Harvey struck Texas last month, Virginia has been providing emergency management and response assistance across the southeastern portions of the nation.

Missions can be coordinated through federal partners such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or through a cooperative agreement between states called the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), through which impacted states can input their needs for assistance and other states can quickly mobilize resources to meet those needs. Logistics and financial reimbursement are then coordinated through the EMAC system.

“Virginia is active in providing expertise not only through state-to-state agreements with impacted areas, but also supporting federal response efforts,” said VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “These crews represent the highest level of tactical skills and expertise that make Virginia’s emergency management and response forces vital tools not only for Virginia’s resilience efforts, but also to assist on a national scale when disasters impact U.S. citizens.”

In late August, the Virginia National Guard sent approximately 40 soldiers and six helicopters to Texas to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery operations, and after transporting medical personnel and supplies, they safely returned to Virginia in early September.

On September 18, a joint incident management team comprised of 15 individuals from across the Commonwealth deployed to assist with emergency operations center management in Monroe County, Florida (Florida Keys). The team will provide command and control support in the region through early October.

A Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) volunteer coordinator is currently working in Texas to assist with coordination of thousands of volunteers arriving in the area through non-profit and religious organizations. This mission is slated to continue through the end of September.

Roanoke’s 17-person Strike Team 6 deployed to Texas on August 30 and spent more than a week conducting water rescues of civilians trapped in the rising flood waters from Hurricane Harvey.

The 14-person Fairfax Task Force 1 deployed to Texas on a mission organized by the federal government to assist in swift water rescues of civilians from August 27 to September 6.

Virginia Beach Virginia Task Force 2 deployed to Texas to assist in federal government organized assistance, providing swift water rescue support through September 5.

A blended incident management team comprised of emergency managers from across the Commonwealth deployed to Texas from September 1 to September 9 to provide emergency management command and control support.

Virginia’s Task Force 2 from Virginia Beach deployed to Puerto Rico under a federal response effort to provide on-the-ground emergency response support for both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Personnel originally deployed September 4 in anticipation of Irma, and 16 additional personnel were deployed on September 7 to address the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.

Virginia’s Task Force 1 from Fairfax deployed to Alabama September 6 to provide immediate on the ground support following the impacts of Hurricane Irma.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Restoration and Cleanup Strike Team deployed to Florida in late August to assist with on-the-ground cleanup efforts from Hurricane Irma.

How to Get Involved

To learn how to help those who have been affected by the recent natural disasters please visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/want-help-hurricane-victims-heres-right/

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