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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington residents woke up this morning to another day of gasoline shortages and lines at gas stations.

While the Colonial Pipeline has been restarted after last week’s cyberattack, it could take days for gasoline supplies along the East Coast and in the Southeast to return to normal, the pipeline company says. In the meantime, trying to fill up in Arlington requires patience.

Last night most if not all Arlington gas stations were out of gas, according to GasBuddy. Even the military gas station at Fort Myer was running low or out. At one BP station that still had gas yesterday evening, Arlington County deployed mobile signboard crews to close a lane of traffic along Lee Highway due to the long line.

Across Virginia this morning, GasBuddy reported that 55% of stations were without gas. The Commonwealth is still in a state of emergency as a result of the pipeline disruption.

In a quick survey of some parts of Arlington this morning, ARLnow saw some stations that were out of gas, while others were back in operation — with lines of drivers hoping to fill their tank.

Among the stations still awaiting a refill this morning was the Shell station near the corner of N. Glebe Road and Lee Highway. While the Exxon station across the street had gas — and a long line — the Shell station had handwritten “out of gas” signs on the pumps. One thing it did have: a CNN crew broadcasting reports for TV stations across the country.

As if the shortages weren’t bad enough, a car caught fire at one local gas station this morning. Initial reports suggest that a Volvo caught fire at the Liberty gas station at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive shortly before 10:30 a.m. Damage to the building was reported, but there were no reports of injuries. Police helped to direct traffic while Arlington County firefighters extinguished the flames.

Colonial Pipeline, meanwhile, says it should be back supplying fuels across its system by midday today, raising hopes of a relatively swift return to normal at the pumps.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington gas stations were busy Tuesday afternoon, but by nightfall lines formed at numerous stations as more drivers filled up in anticipation of potential shortages.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today, in response to the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline system, a primary source of gasoline for stations across the state. The governor’s declaration is intended to address possible fuel shortages caused by the pipeline shutdown.

From a press release:

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gasoline, the Governor’s emergency declaration allows state agencies to issue their own waivers as required by the state. Executive Order Seventy-Eight also provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply.

“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” said Governor Northam.

Earlier today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in Virginia and other states whose supply of reformulated gasoline has been impacted by the pipeline shutdown. This waiver will continue through May 18, 2021.

States of emergency have been declared in at least 17 states and D.C. Shortages and long gas station lines have been reported in numerous states, mostly in the Southeast.

In Arlington Tuesday night, nearly all gas stations along Lee Highway had lines of cars waiting to fuel up — and at least one had its pumps shut off with signs saying gas was “not available.”

Similar lines were seen in other parts of the county.

Amid the panic buying, officials say they hope to get most of the pipeline back up and running by the end of the week.

Already, as of Wednesday afternoon, more gas shortages were reported. At the Cherrydale five points intersection, for instance, both the Liberty and the Exxon stations were out of gas.

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) While sitting a safe distance away from each other, members of the Arlington County Board voted 4-0 to approve a declaration of local emergency this morning, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

County Manager Mark Schwartz signed the declaration of emergency at 7 p.m. Friday. He said the declaration will allow the county to more easily obtain state and federal funds, acquire needed goods and services, and hire staff as needed.

The county will continue to provide essential services, including emergency services, maintenance, and even permitting during the outbreak, Schwartz said. There will be more changes put in place soon, however.

“We know that these new measures are an inconvenience, but we believe that these changes to county government are Arlington’s best chance of slowing this virus,” said County Board member Katie Cristol.

Arlington is continuing to encourage residents to practice social distancing — avoiding crowds and staying at least six feet apart from each other to prevent the spread of disease — County Board members said in a pre-recorded video, played at the Board’s special meeting Saturday morning.

As of Friday afternoon, all Dept. of Parks and Recreation programs were cancelled. All libraries are closed this weekend, though Central Library and the Columbia Pike branch library plan to reopen on Monday, while others remain closed. Schools are now closed through mid-April.

Schwartz said on Monday a new list of hours and operational changes for county facilities will be posted on the county’s website.

“I hope everyone pays attention to the social distancing, washes your hands, wipes down surfaces — this is going to be with us for awhile,” Garvey said, wrapping up the brief meeting. “Your local government has been working flat out for weeks now. We’re going to continue to do so. Please be safe and gentle with each other.”

At last count, there were five confirmed cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Arlington.

Large crowds of shoppers and empty shelves, meanwhile, continue to be reported at stores in Arlington.

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Arlington announced a second “presumptive” case of coronavirus in the county Thursday afternoon.

An individual associated with Christ Church in Georgetown, where a pastor was diagnosed with the disease, developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while self-quarantined at home and tested positive for the disease, the county said.

“The individual is currently doing well and is isolated at home,” the county said in a press release. “Arlington County Public Health is working with the individual’s close contacts and advising them as appropriate.”

The county went on to note that “while there may be unmitigated or uncontained community transmission elsewhere in the U.S., based on the limited information available, there is no evidence yet of significant community transmission in the National Capital Region or Arlington.”

The first case of coronavirus in Arlington was reported on March 9. As of 2:45 p.m. Thursday, the Virginia Dept. of Health was reporting 17 “presumptive positive” coronavirus cases.

Also on Thursday afternoon, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency as a result of the outbreak.

More on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention advice, from the county press release:

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. In a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can cause death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.
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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Over a thousand residents have reported damage to their homes and several tons of debris was collected after last week’s torrential rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Arlington.

The deadline for residents to report initial damages to their homes was Friday, July 12. Today (Monday) officials told ARLnow that a total of 1,029 people filed post-storm damage claims.

The damage reports describe a range of problem from minor (clogged drains) to major (completely flooded basements), said Hannah Winant, a spokeswoman with Arlington’s Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management (PSCEM) department.

Winant said the reports will help Arlington County’s recovery and flood mitigation efforts.

“First, reports help us determine what neighborhoods have been impacted by weather. For example, we may learn if someone needs a safety inspection after electricity loss,” she said. “Second, damage reports help us better convey our needs to the state when requesting potential resources to assist with recovery efforts. The more clearly we can articulate how many people have been impacted… the better we can advocate for our community and potentially collaborate with state and federal partners to help.”

As for the destruction of county property like pedestrian bridges and public parks, Winant says Arlington is current estimating about $4.1 million in damages — up from initial estimates last week of $3.5 million.

PSCEM’s director clarified during Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting that these reports are used for the county’s state and federal aid applications, and that affected residents will have another change to summit damage claims later.

Crews hauled away 60 tons of debris — from rolled up carpets to soggy books to water-damaged furniture — during special collections from Wednesday to Saturday, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. That doesn’t include the ruined parts of people’s homes that dotted curbs around Arlington, waiting to be collected on regular trash pick-up days.

O’Brien said that county crews are scheduled to continue helping residents affected by the floods clear debris this week. The department previously apologized for a contractor who cited some flood-stricken residents “for improper trash preparation.”

Many homes, shops, restaurants, and pieces of public infrastructure were damaged by last Monday’s unusually strong storm — leading County Manager Mark Schwartz to declare a state of emergency in a bid for state or federal aid two days later.

“Our community experienced a rain event on Monday the likes of which no one who lives in Arlington, or who has lived in Arlington, has ever seen,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey at the Board’s weekend meeting, during which members unanimously voted to finalize the declaration. “The violent storm that turned the daytime sky as dark as night in a matter in minutes.”

PSCEM Director Aaron Miller told the Board that the county met the $3 million minimum damage threshold needed to qualify for state aid, and that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is sending inspectors to Arlington this week to verify the damage reports. The SBA could offer grants or low-interest loans for residents to rebuild.

Miller said additional aid hinges on a tangle of bureaucratic red tape among FEMA and larger emergency declarations that can only happen at the federal level when certain damage thresholds are met.

Dorsey added that he hoped that Virginia or the federal government will be able to give “some sort of help” but that the majority of costs are likely to fall on homeowners and business owners.

Several members of the public urged the Board to re-examine its storm water management system in hard-hit areas. Board Member Erik Gutshall proposed that the county start thinking about flood-ready construction for more resilient buildings and infrastructure.

Dorsey praised county staff for their work over the past week but noted that, “we do have to up our game” in face of future potential impacts from climate change. 

“It is quite frankly a blessed miracle that no one was killed or even seriously injured with the events of this past Monday and for that we are profoundly grateful,” he said.

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Snow plow on Jan. 24, 2016Update at 4:20 p.m. Metro has released its latest service plan for Monday night into Tuesday. The Metrorail system will be open Tuesday and will operate on a Saturday schedule. Buses will start the day operating on a severe service plan, according to WMATA.

Arlington County, Virginia State Police and other local jurisdictions and agencies are bracing for the late-season snowstorm that’s expected to bring several inches of snow and sleet to our region starting tonight.

After-school activities and sporting events are being cancelled en masse tonight and officials are preparing for what may be a messy commute at best or major travel disruptions at worst tomorrow. In addition to problems on the roads, widespread flight cancellations are also expected at local airports.

From Kathryn O’Brien at Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services:

Arlington County will fully-mobilize crews this afternoon to combat the snow beginning tonight into Tuesday. In preparation for the storm, crews pretreated roads over the weekend.

During the storm, our priority is to keep main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation. After the storm, cleanup operations begin, which includes treating ice on the roadways. Plowing generally begins when snow is two-four inches deep. If more than six inches of snow falls, we will plow some residential areas at the same time as arterial roadways in phase two. (Learn more about our phases).

The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a certain time frame. Here are some other ways residents can help with our snow removal efforts:

  • Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear more of the streets
  • Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs so that plows have more room to maneuver
  • Clear your sidewalks and scoop snow towards your house, not the street
  • Wait for snow plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
  • Stay home, telework or use mass transit to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
  • Apply only the recommended amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks to attain a safe and passable way

We encourage residents to stay connected through our Snow and Ice Central webpage and our DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow us on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Environmental Services.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, has declared a State of Emergency in advance of the storm, saying that “Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”

From Virginia State Police:

Virginia State Police will have all available troopers and supervisors working in advance of and the duration of the storm as it makes its way across the Commonwealth. To prevent unnecessary traffic crashes from occurring on Virginia’s highways during the storm, state police advises residents to postpone travel plans and avoid driving, when possible.

If having to travel during the storm, drivers are reminded to do the following:

  • Use headlights. Increasing your visibility helps you to avoid slick and dangerous spots on the road, to include standing water and/or flooding. Headlights also help other drivers see you better.
  • Slow your speed. Though state police works closely with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to identify problem areas on Virginia’s highways during a storm, drivers still must drive for conditions. Slowing your speed gives you more time to safely react and avoid a crash. Drive your vehicle based on your ability to properly maintain control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t tailgate. You need increased stopping distance on slick road surfaces. Give yourself more space between vehicles traveling ahead of you in order to avoid rear end collisions.
  • Buckle Up. Most crashes that occur during inclement weather are caused by vehicles sliding off the road or other vehicles. Wearing your seat belt protects you from being thrown around the inside of your vehicle and suffering serious injury in a crash.
  • Put down your phone. Having to drive in severe snow or rain requires a driver’s full, uninterrupted attention. Do not text and drive or shoot video of the bad conditions while driving, as these actions put you, your passengers and other vehicles at extreme risk of a crash and/or injury.
  • Check Your Vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in good working order for the conditions. Fill up the tank in advance. Check windshield wipers, windshield wiper fluid, tire tread, battery life, etc.
  • Don’t leave home without a window scraper, blanket, bottled water, snack, cell phone charger and flashlight.

For the latest in road conditions and updates, please call 511 on a cell phone, download the App or go online to the VDOT Virginia Traffic Information Website at www.511virginia.org.

More via Twitter:

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Winter storm Jonas hasn’t even made it to Arlington and panic has already set in. Store shelves are dwindling. Virginia is in a state of emergency. Metrotrail this afternoon announced it would suspend service across the entire system starting tomorrow night at 11 p.m. and remain closed all day Saturday and Sunday.

But all this panic is likely for good reason: More than 100 traffic accidents took place in the region during Wednesday’s pre-storm flurries (Arlington apologized for the road conditions). We shudder to think what’s going to happen should Jonas begin dropping the reported up-to-20-inches of flakes on us Friday afternoon.

Multiple county agencies have mobilized in an effort to keep things as civilized as possible. In Arlington, there are more than 100 county drivers working 12-hour shifts, driving 47 county trucks with another 30 or so on contract standing by.

The 9,000 tons of salt ready to be spread on roads is 1,000 tons more than last year, and there’s also 200 tons of sand at the ready. Still, most government agencies in the area are repeating the same message: Do not leave home.

We’ve put together a few resources you should know about how to cope with snow in Arlington.

  • Here’s the snow removal hotline: 703-228-6485. Or instead, use this form to report an issue. On the other hand, maybe they’re on the way; use the number to call for service updates.
  • Ever wonder why three days into a “weather event” your street hasn’t been plowed? You might not like the answer, but here it is.
  • So you got to the end of the street but slid sideways into a snow bank? And then when you came back the car was gone? Oh, no, you got towed. You’re going to want to call this number: 703-558-2222. Maybe you should have checked if Metro is running.
  • Did you lose your power too? Here’s where to report it with Dominion Virginia Power or to find out why it’s still out.
  • Here’s a list of closings and delays at county agencies. They can’t get to work either.
  • If you can get the door open and step outside, there are nine miles of trails the Parks & Rec gang are keeping plowed for your hiking pleasure. Snow shoes optional.
  • This winter the county is experimenting with plowing tracks into protected bicycle lanes. If you ride your bike in the snow, make sure you know what you are doing.
  • Remember, you need to shovel that snow in front of your house, no matter how deep it is. It’s the law.
  • In addition, Arlington Fire would like you to “adopt a hydrant”; so does your dog.
  • Out of bread, milk and toilet paper already? You should have prepared better by reading this first.
  • If you can get out of the house, head to one of three Arlington parks–Virginia Highlands, Mosaic Park and Bluemont Park–to watch front-end loaders pile snow into a massive snow melting machine. Beats watching another episode of “Sponge Bob.”
  • Here’s a bunch of important county emergency phone numbers in a single pdf.
  • And please, check on your elderly and handicapped neighbors. We’re all in this together.
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Morning Notes

Construction site in the snow

‘Carmageddon’ Grips Local Roads — It’s crazy what one inch of snow can do to unsalted roads. Hundreds of drivers slid, stopped and slammed into each other across  area roads last night and early this morning. Multiple commuters told us it took hours to get home. [ARLNow, FOX 5, CBS 6Washington Post]

Traffic Study Reveals I-66 Problems — Ever wondered why I-66 is a mess sometimes? A new study supporting a plan for high-occupancy toll lanes may help shed light on why. Though that answer to that question is complicated, the study did reveal one thing: HOV rules have a large impact on traffic. [Washington Post]

Shovel That Walk, It’s The Law — Did you know you’re required to clear public sidewalks adjacent to your property? If not, you might want to brush up on the rules before this weekend’s snowstorm. [Arlington County]

Gov. McAuliffe Declares State of Emergency — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia in response to the winter storm expected to slam the region tomorrow and Saturday. [ARLNow]

Arrowine’s ‘Ladies of the Vine’ Cancelled — The event is cancelled due to the looming snowstorm. [ARLNow]

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia in response to the winter storm expected to slam the region tomorrow and Saturday.

McAuliffe declared the state of emergency around 8 a.m. this morning to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending snow, and urged them to prepare right away.

“Keeping Virginians safe in the event of severe weather is our top concern – that is why Virginia began preparing for severe winter weather yesterday by ordering more than 500 vehicles out to pretreat roads in Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “All Virginians should take the threat of this storm seriously and take necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”

The storm is expected to bring double-digit snowfall and wind gusts up to roughly 40 miles per hour Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. About an inch of snowfall snarled traffic and caused dozens of accidents across the area last night.

Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe during the storm (after the jump). Read More

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Possible path for Hurricane Joaquin (via National Weather Service)Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia in response to an impending nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin, which is making its way toward the East Coast.

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).

Read More

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Morning Notes

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

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