McAuliffe declared the state of emergency to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending storms.
“I cannot stress enough the imperative for Virginians to focus on the rainstorms that are headed our way tomorrow and Friday, well before Hurricane Joaquin could potentially impact Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “The forecast of up to 10 inches of rain in areas across Virginia could result in floods, power outages and a serious threat to life and property. As we continue to track the path of Hurricane Joaquin, I have instructed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to make every preparation for a major event Thursday and Friday.”
The nor’easter is expect to hit the area Thursday and Friday bringing a prolonged period of torrential rain and the potential for dangerous flooding, McAuliffe said in a statement. The rain may continue as Hurricane Joaquin approaches.
Joaquin is currently expected to make landfall at some point on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The hurricane’s possible trajectory has it hitting North Carolina around 2 p.m. on Sunday and moving through Virginia, D.C. and Maryland Sunday and Monday. Another path, however, predicts Joaquin will bypass the East Coast completely.
Joaquin is currently a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 85 miles per hour and is floating around the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands, according to NWS.
Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe when flooding is expected (after the jump).
Major Traffic, Metro Woes — It was extremely slow going for commuters crossing the 14th Street Bridge this morning. Wet roads and a couple of crashes backed up traffic on I-395 and feeder routes for miles. Traffic issues were also reported on Columbia Pike, due to malfunctioning traffic signals at S. Queen Street. Meanwhile, a fire response at the L’Enfant Metro station and track issues on the Yellow Line bridge have resulted in speed restrictions and delays for Yellow Line riders. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Waiting for Joaquin — Arlington County is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Joaquin, which some models are suggesting may have a big impact on the D.C. area. [Twitter]
Cristol Touts Endorsements — Following a snub by County Board member John Vihstadt, who endorsed her Democratic ticketmate Christian Dorsey and independent candidate Mike McMenamin, County Board candidate Katie Cristol is touting her own endorsements. “Twenty elected officials, comprising all of Arlington’s School Board, Constitutional Officers and Richmond delegation, and much of the County Board, today endorsed Katie Cristol’s campaign,” the campaign said in a press release Tuesday. [Katie Cristol]
Juror Qualification Process Begins — A random selection of Arlington and Falls Church residents are being mailed juror questionnaires, which will be used to qualify residents for jury duty in 2016. [Arlington County]
Attorney General Holds Arlington Newser — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced a new training initiative for police at a news conference in Arlington yesterday. The training is intended to help officers de-escalate dangerous situations, thus preventing the need to excessive use of force, while also recognizing potential biases they may bring to the job. Arlington County already conducts similar training. [NBC Washington]
There are actually two hurricane tax holidays this year. The first tax holiday is May 25-31, which has been declared Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The second is Aug. 7-9.
After 2015, there will only be one holiday in August. The Virginia General Assembly voted to combine three hurricane preparedness tax holidays into one three-day period. However, the bill goes into effect on July 1, 2015, which means the planned tax holiday from May 25-31 was unaffected.
The 2015 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, according to the National Weather Service. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its predictions for the 2015 hurricane season at 10:30 a.m. today.
Among the list of items exempt from tax are supplies under $60, including bottled water and batteries, generators under $1,000 and chainsaws under $350. Food and candles are not exempt.
While inland, Arlington is not immune to the impacts of Atlantic hurricanes. The county saw plenty of wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and more significant damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011.
From May 25-31, certain emergency supplies that cost less than $60 — a list that includes batteries, flash lights, rope, duct tape, bottled water and cell phone chargers — are exempt from sales tax at all Virginia retailers. Portable generators that cost less than $1,000 are tax exempt, as are gas-powered chainsaws that cost less than $350.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that it anticipates three-to-five hurricanes to hit this season, and one or two “major” hurricanes. The National Weather Service is anticipating a “below normal” hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean NWS scientists aren’t urging caution.
“The prediction of a below normal hurricane season should not be taken to mean Virginia won’t be impacted this year,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist, said in a press release from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). “Let’s all remember that it only takes one storm to cause severe damage and even loss of life. Everyone should get ready now for this hurricane season.”
State officials are urging residents to purchase flood insurance, saying “an inch of water in a small home can lead to more than $10,000 in losses.” The governor’s office is recommending families have at least a three days’ supply of bottled water, plenty of nonperishable food, extra batteries and either a battery-powered or hand crank radio to listen to emergency broadcasts.
The complete press release from the governor’s office, after the jump. (more…)
Ground Floor Retail Exemption Granted — At its meeting yesterday (May 21), the County Board granted an exemption to the policy of requiring ground floor retail space, for the office building at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive. The building formerly housed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had received a retail exemption due to security concerns. The Board granted the exemption this time due to the space’s lack of access and visibility from the street. [Sun Gazette]
AIRE Goal Exceeded — Arlington County has exceeded its 2007 Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) goal of a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from government operations by 2012. The county has reduced its emissions by 11.7 percent since 2000. “This is an important milestone in Arlington’s efforts to build a more sustainable future for all our residents and businesses,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “The County has made great strides in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and of our fleet and services, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce emissions and reduce spending on energy.” [Arlington County]
Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday — Virginia’s annual Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins on Saturday, May 25, and runs through Friday, May 31. The tax holiday allows residents to prepare for hurricane season, which begins on June 1, by eliminating sales tax on purchases of emergency supplies. Items such as batteries, generators, bottled water, duct tape, cell phone chargers and radios are included. [Virginia Emergency Management]
(Updated at 10:55 a.m. on 11/10/12) For nearly two weeks, stories of devastation have continued pouring out of New York and New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy struck the worst. Today, members of the Arlington County Police Department did their best to ease the pain of some of the hardest hit victims.
Sgt. Steve Meincke and Det. Colin Dorrity (who is with Metro Transit Police) are both from Toms River, NJ, an area that experienced widespread devastation. Hearing about the hardships their family members and friends are enduring in the surrounding areas prompted Det. Dorrity to ask Sgt. Meincke about sending out an email to the entire department, asking for donations of supplies. The response was overwhelming and in just one week, the effort exceeded Det. Dorrity’s anticipated goal of one carload of supplies. Instead, the haul required a moving truck.
The donations will go to the Keansburg, NJ police department to be distributed to those in need. The department headquarters was demolished in the storm, so officers there are working out of an old building. Det. Dorrity has a friend on that force, who sent a request for help.
“He said, ‘Can you help us out? We have nothing. We’ve been working for the last 10 days, we’re running out of equipment, we’re running out of underwear, we’re running out of socks. We can’t even wash our clothes because we’re never off duty,'” said Det. Dorrity. “If you think about the first responders, in particular, their houses got destroyed but those guys now have been working for 10 days straight without any relief. They can’t even get back to their houses to check on them.”
On top of the existing devastation from Sandy, this week’s Nor’easter left homeless victims facing freezing temperatures and up to a foot of snow while trying to clean up their towns.
“Now that the second storm hit, they’re dealing with the snow issue, and no power,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We’re just trying to provide some items for these families who are going through a tough time. Items for infants and babies, food, and basically anything that can keep people warm up there.”
There was a big push to get not just warm clothing and food, but also games and toys to keep displaced children occupied while they stay in shelters. Animal food is another item that’s often forgotten but is in high demand. Many people brought their pets to the shelters, but shelters don’t have a supply of foods for pets.
On Wednesday (November 7), Det. Dorrity helped take two trucks of supplies to New Jersey. Those items were donated by members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the D.C. metro area, along with a couple of schools. He said seeing his hometown in such a state was painful.
“It’s really bad up there, it’s really terrible. It’s hard, you know, when I went up the past few days,” he said. “Seeing your home and a National Guard checkpoint in your neighborhood, it’s a little bit surreal.”
More, including photos, after the jump.
Arlington Independent Media, the non-profit public access cable channel, is back on after being knocked off the air by Superstorm Sandy.
AIM went off the air last week due to damage to a “server that programs the channel.” The computer problems were caused not by flooding or wind damage, but by power outages during the storm.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our producers and viewers,” AIM said at the time.
This afternoon, the organization announced that repairs were complete and the channel is once again broadcasting on air — on Verizon channel 38 and Comcast channel 69 — and online.
The tree supposedly came down this past Sunday, according to parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but the resident who first emailed ARLnow.com to ask about the safety hazard said it actually came down Tuesday, during Superstorm Sandy. Regardless of when it fell, the tree remains have been blocking the sidewalk ever since, forcing pedestrians to either walk up a small hill or into the street to get around it. It also blocked a bus stop and a bike lane, forcing bicyclists out into a vehicle travel lane.
The tree was on private property — near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Troy Street, just down the street from the Courthouse area — and Kalish said the county was not notified that it was blocking a sidewalk until ARLnow.com asked about it yesterday.
“According to a property manager at Colonial Village the tree fell Sunday night. They did not have an opportunity to remove it or contact us regarding it until we checked into it for [ARLnow.com],” she said. “The Parks team will clear the sidewalk today.”
County to Ask For Federal Storm Aid — Yesterday, Arlington County ended the State of Emergency declaration put in place for Hurricane Sandy. The county says it will seek federal reimbursement for the estimated $1.17 million cost of responding to the storm. Meanwhile, the county says that one private home was destroyed by the storm, while 17 suffered major damage and 27 suffered minor damage. [Arlington County]
APS Rolls Out ‘Courtesy Bus Service’ — Arlington Public Schools has started to bus some students who lost their eligibility to ride the bus this year as part of changes to the school system’s transportation policies this year. The courtesy service will only be offered this year, school officials say. So far, 83 students have been allowed back on buses. [Sun Gazette]
SoberRide Halloween Stats — The SoberRide program says it provided 157 free cab rides to “would-be drunk drivers” in the D.C. area on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]
Road Closures for 5K Race — A number of roads will be closed near Tuckahoe Elementary School for the National Race Against the Odds 5K race this weekend. The closures will be in place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 4). [ACPD]
Advice for Damaged Trees — The TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria have some advice for property owners whose trees were damaged by SuperStorm Sandy. The organization has been encouraging property owners to read about precautions to be taken when hiring tree services to help with storm clean-up, and about “first aid” procedures for storm-damaged trees.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
As of 10:15 this morning, only 997 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington, compared to more than 5,000 around the same time yesterday and more than 18,000 at the height of Superstorm Sandy.
Last night, Arlington officials reported that there were no dark traffic lights in the county. Six intersections were using generators to keep the signals functioning, however. There were about 20 non-functioning traffic signals the morning after the storm.
As of 5:30 last night, about 18 streets were still blocked or partially blocked by down trees, but county crews were working to clear the debris, according to a county media update.
Dominion says crews will be working on power lines and equipment at the following Arlington locations today:
- N. Henderson Rd & N. 3rd St
- S. 7th St & Buchanan
- Arlington Ridge Rd & S. 28th St
- Columbia Pike & S Buchanan St
- N 15th St & N Vermont St
- N Inglewood St & 17th St N
- 1st Rd & N Irving St
- N Quinn St & N 12th St
- N Stuart St & N 25th St
- N Underwood St & N 25th St
- N Nelson St & N 10th St
- S 5th St & S Aberdeen St
- S Chesterfield Rd south of Four Mile Run
- S. Glebe Rd. & S 9th St.
- Williamsburg Blvd & N Edison St
- Wilson Blvd & N Randolph St
Flickr pool photo by Afagen
The company plans to work on downed lines and blown transformers in more than 40 locations around the county.
As of 10:00 a.m., 5,264 Dominion customers are still without power in Arlington. That’s down from more than 18,000 at the storm’s peak. The company says it plans to have all Superstorm Sandy-related outages restored by Thursday night.
Arlington County crews are continuing to clean up debris-covered streets and assess damage. The county expects damages in Arlington from Sandy “will be in the millions of dollars.”
Dominion is planning to work at the following locations today:
- 10th St & N. Daniel St
- 14th St west of N Longfellow St
- 25th St east of Old Dominion Dr
- 29th St N & Sycamore St
- S. 12th St
- 40th St south of 41st St
- Carlyn Springs Rd & South 1st Pl
- Columbia Pk & Buchanan St
- Hayes St @ 23rd St
- Lee Hwy & N Calvert St
- Lee Hwy & N. Vermont St
- Little Falls Rd & 26th St
- 10th St & N Edgewood St
- North 17th St & North Hartford St
- N 19th St & Lexington
- N 23 Rd St & N Fillmore St
- N 25th St & N 26th Rd
- N 5th St east of N Monroe St
- N Barton St & 10th St
- Yorktown Blvd & N Brandywine St
- N Harrison St & 16th St
- N Kennsington St & 35th Rd
- N 25th Rd & N Kensington St
- N Pollard St btwn Wilson Blvd & 6th St
- N Quinn St & N 12th St
- N Stuart St & N 25th St
- N. Edison St & N. 38th St
- N. Quincy St. & N. 18th S
- N. Stafford St off Lee Hwy
- N. West St & Washington Blvd
- Patrick Henry Dr & Washington Blvd
- N. Oakland St north of Old Domonion Dr
- S 11th St & Frederick St
- S 16th St & S Ives St
- S 24th Rd
- S 4th St & Illinois
- S 4th St & Jefferson St
- S Eads St south of 12th St
- S Glebe Rd & S 3rd St
- S. Shirlington Rd. south of 25th St
- Washington Blvd & N Longfellow St
- Westmoreland St & Williamsburg Blvd
- Wilson Blvd & N Madison St
Trick or Treating Tonight — So far, Arlington County has not placed any restrictions on trick or treating tonight in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. There’s no official trick or treating time in Arlington; children typically begin trick or treating shortly after sundown.
Halloween Safety Tips — WalkArlington has a number of helpful safety tips for parents whose children will be trick or treating tonight. Among them: Parents should make sure their trick-or-treaters are wearing bright colors or reflectors and have a costume that allows them to clearly see their surroundings. Parents should also review safety rules with children before they leave the house. [WalkArlington]
Reopening After Sandy — Arlington Public Schools will be open today, with the exception of Barcroft Elementary School, which is still without power. Arlington County government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open, as will federal government offices.
SoberRide Still On — The SoberRide program, which provides a free cab ride (up to a $30 fare) for holiday revelers, is still on despite Sandy. It’s open to anyone in the greater D.C. area calling 1-800-200-TAXI between 10:00 tonight and 4:00 tomorrow morning. A planned SoberRide-related press event in Arlington, however, which was to unveil a new vehicle that would be used to discourage drunk driving, has been postponed until after Election Day (Nov. 6).
Update at 5:55 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools (except Barcroft Elementary) will open on time tomorrow (Wednesday). “Parents are asked to be patient as buses may need to work around road closures in some parts of the county, causing delays on some routes,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia.
All county government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open.
Roads are gradually being cleared, dark homes are lighting up and residents are attempting to return to a sense of normalcy following Superstorm Sandy.
Currently, Dominion’s outage map shows 14,645 Arlington customers without power. The company promises to have crews working around the clock until power is restored. It’s hoping to complete its restoration efforts by Thursday night.
The federal government will be open for business tomorrow, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which will mean increased traffic on neighborhood streets that are still littered with storm debris.
Metro has resumed bus and train service and is slowly getting all lines back up to normal operation. Trains are running on a Sunday schedule. ART buses also resumed service this afternoon on routes 41 and 51. There may be delays if there is debris in the roads along the routes.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reports that Reagan National Airport fared well and didn’t experience any damage or flooding. Most flights are still cancelled today but there are a few taking off and arriving. Travelers are urged to check with their airlines directly for information about flights before going to the airport. MWAA will provide updates via Twitter as more flights begin to take off.
Early voters can go to Courthouse Plaza until 7:00 p.m. for in-person absentee voting. For now, the Barcroft and Madison locations remain closed, but the county hopes they can open tomorrow in addition to the Courthouse location. More information about absentee voting can be found online.
Trash and recycling services, including brush and leaf collection, will resume Wednesday. Monday/Tuesday pickups have been rescheduled for Wednesday, and Wednesday/Thursday pickups have been rescheduled for Friday. Storm debris removal can be requested online or by calling 703-228-6570. The normal requirement for brush to be less than 18 inches in diameter will be waived.
The county notes that an additional 2,000 people signed up for the Arlington Alert system during the storm, bringing the number of total subscribers to more than 50,000. The system provides emergency information updates via email or text message. Anyone interested in receiving alerts during the storm cleanup and for future public safety events can sign up online.
Whether it was due to a loss of power or downed trees, thousands of Arlington residents have felt the effects of Superstorm Sandy. Marco Delmar and his family are definitely among them.
Delmar might initially be dubbed unlucky because a tree fell into his home. However, upon further inspection he and his family could actually fall into the “incredibly lucky” category, considering all four are still alive to tell the story.
Around 8:00 p.m. on Monday, the family had just finished dinner and left the dining room when a huge tree slammed into their house on the 2800 block of 2nd Road N. in Lyon Park. Delmar and his wife escaped unharmed, along with their children, ages 12 and 17. (A 21 year-old daughter was away at college at the time.)
From the inside, when the tree struck, the family heard a loud crashing sound and could see the plaster falling around them. But they didn’t realize how badly the house had been crushed until they left the house — via the basement, the only way out — and examined the damage from outside. Once they surveyed the mess, the family members felt even luckier to all walk away without a scratch.
“The house is just dirt put together, we’ll build another one,” Delmar said. “I was just thrilled that everyone was fine.”
Delmar said the house was built in the 1920s and he has lived there since 1966. He had a neighbor who worked at the Pentagon and looked up the home in historic records. The neighbor discovered that many of the trees surrounding the house were planted around the time of the Civil War, including the one that crashed into the house.
“You know, my parents owned this house so I bought it when they passed away,” Delmar said. “It was always one of their greatest fears, one of these huge trees would fall.”
Delmar, who is a record producer for Recording Arts, also has a studio in his home and has yet to examine how much of his work may have been affected by the damage. He plans to rent a small place for the family to stay while the house is rebuilt.
Although one of the most severe examples of tree damage from Sandy, Delmar’s case was not the only one in Arlington. Dozens of trees fell in neighborhoods including Bluemont, Waverly Hills, Ballston, Arlington Forest and Aurora Hills (see photos below), some bringing down power lines and utility poles. More reports continue to come in as residents assess damage in their yards and surrounding neighborhoods.
County workers are joining Dominion crews in inspecting hazards and attending to them as quickly as possible.
Photos below by ARLnow.com and various contributors. Contributed photos by photographers as noted.
Superstorm Sandy — nee Hurricane Sandy — brought heavy rain and fierce winds to Arlington Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
Arlington was “spared the worst of the storm’s impact,” according to county officials, but Sandy and her 60 mph wind gusts knocked down dozens of trees across the county, many of which fell onto roadways and into houses.
As of 8:45 a.m., Arlington County was reporting 22 incidents of trees falling onto or into houses. No injuries were reported and authorities made sure all residents were safe. In fact, there are no known storm-related fatalities or injuries, according to county officials.
About 40 roads were still blocked by downed trees, including Washington Boulevard at N. Utah Street in Ballston, seen above. Crews were working to remove the trees, but some fell across power lines, requiring assistance from Dominion.
Approximately 20 traffic signals are not functioning this morning. All dark intersections should be treated as an all-way stop.
As of 9:10 a.m., Dominion was reporting 15,586 customers without power in Arlington, down slightly from more than 18,000 last night.
Statewide, from Sunday to 6:00 this morning, Virginia State Police responded to 2,549 traffic crashes and disabled vehicles, and received a total of 4,605 calls for service. At the height of the storm, state police say they were fielding 155 calls for service an hour. VDOT, meanwhile, has lifted HOV restrictions on I-395, I-95, I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road today.
While winds aren’t quite a strong today, Arlington officials say fallen debris, high standing water and remaining weather impacts are still making travel hazardous.
“We continue to urge caution,” the county said. “Conditions remain potentially dangerous outside. Avoid going out onto the roads. Never drive into standing water.”
Those who must travel today will eventually be able to do so via Metro. The transit agency says it will restore limited bus and rail service starting at 2:00 p.m. Trains and buses will operate on a Sunday schedule.
Update at 10:25 a.m. — Arlington Public Schools says a decision about reopening schools on Wednesday will be made “by early this evening.”