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Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued for Arlington

Arlington and surrounding areas are under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch tonight (Wednesday).

A line of potentially severe storms is approaching the D.C. region from the west. Forecasters say the storms could bring gusty winds, frequent lighting and hail.

More from the National Weather Service:

Photo (top) via National Weather Service

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Morning Notes

Ballston Mall LED Screens Nixed — Developer Forest City is, for now, withdrawing a request to install two large, high-definition LED video screens above the main entrance to its still under-construction Ballston Quarter mall. The screens do not comply with Arlington zoning rules. Attorneys for Forest City say they are still hoping that the County Board will eventually amend the zoning ordinance to allow such screens. [Washington Business Journal]

Free ART Bus Rides Thursday — “Think there’s no such thing as a free ride? Not if you take the bus in Arlington, Virginia, and you’re traveling on Sept. 20. Arlington Transit is letting passengers ride free Sept. 20 as a way to celebrate the transit agency’s 20th anniversary.” [WTOP]

Tax Delinquency List — Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava has released her office’s annual list of residents and businesses that have not paid their taxes. The list includes nearly $200,000 in delinquent real estate taxes, $1.3 million in delinquent personal property taxes, $1 million in delinquent business license and property taxes, and more than $500,000 in delinquent meal (restaurant) taxes. [Arlington County]

Celebrating Community and Elders in Nauck — “Celebrating the lives and achievements of the community’s elders was a centerpiece of the 2018 Nauck Civic & Community Pride Day, which brought food, music and fellowship to Drew Model School on Sept. 15. Four community residents who had reached, or were set to reach, the centennial mark – Elizabeth Cole, Novella Cummings, Mary Lockett and Thelma Russell – were honored by the Nauck Civic Association.” [InsideNova]

Critic Praises Shirlington’s Signature — “The Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre — the Arlington troupe known for musicals — shapes up as my favorite D.C. company. I’m not saying Signature is hands-down the best theater in Washington… But Signature showcases a lot of assets, from its singular glam factor to plain old ease of use.” [Washington Post]

Late Night Storms — Thunderstorms that rumbled through Arlington around midnight last night brought a period of frequent lightning and thunder that set off car alarms and awakened some residents from their sleep. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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‘Tree-mergency’ Closes Madison Manor Park Playground

A perilously perched tree has prompted the temporary closure of a playground near East Falls Church.

The severe rain storms of the last few days has caused a “tree-mergency” in Madison Manor Park (6225 12th Street N.).

Susan Kalish, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, says the rain managed to so thoroughly soak the ground at the park that the tree eventually tipped over. She says workers will be removing it “first thing” tomorrow morning (Thursday).

“After they have finished, parks crew will clean up any mess and refasten a section of fence that has been removed,” Kalish wrote in an email. “None of the play equipment has been damaged. One section of the perimeter timber has been dislodged by the tree’s roots and will have to be repaired once the tree is removed.”

Kalish said the county hopes to reopen the playground by “close of business tomorrow,” or Friday morning at the latest.

Parks and recreation workers plan to announce exactly when it will re-open on the department’s Twitter account.

Photo via @arlparksrec

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UPDATED: Flood Warning Issued for Arlington

Update at 5:15 p.m. — As heavy rain continues to fall, high water has been reported on a number of roads, including: along Route 50; on Route 110 below Memorial Drive; at the intersections of Lorcom Lane and Lee Highway; Old Dominion Drive and N. Thomas Street; and at the intersection of N. Quantico Street and 26th Street N.

Update at 4:45 p.m. — The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for Arlington and surrounding areas.

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a

* Flood Warning for… The District of Columbia… Southeastern Montgomery County in central Maryland… Central Prince Georges County in central Maryland… The City of Fairfax in northern Virginia… Arlington County in northern Virginia… The City of Falls Church in northern Virginia… Central Fairfax County in northern Virginia… Northeastern Prince William County in northern Virginia… The City of Alexandria in northern Virginia…

* Until 1045 PM EDT Tuesday.

* At 443 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing  heavy rain which will cause flooding. A quick inch or two of rain  will be possible on saturated ground.

* Some locations that may experience flooding include… Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Annandale, Clinton, Springfield, College Park, Fort Washington, Greenbelt, Fairfax, Langley Park, Beltsville, Fort Hunt, Vienna, Groveton, Forestville, Falls Church, Huntington, Largo and Coral Hills.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots.

Earlier: Arlington County is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch through 9 p.m. tonight (Tuesday).

As of 4:15 p.m. a line of storms was heading toward the county from the northwest, bringing with it heavy rain and lightning.

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Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued for Arlington

Arlington County is under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning as strong storms approach.

The National Weather Service issued the warning just before 8:35 p.m. It is in effect, at least initially, through 9:15 p.m.

More from NWS:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING… * UNTIL 915 PM EDT. * AT 834 PM EDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER LAKE BARCROFT, OR OVER FALLS CHURCH, MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH. HAZARD…60 MPH WIND GUSTS AND QUARTER SIZE HAIL. SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED. IMPACT…DAMAGING WINDS WILL CAUSE SOME TREES AND LARGE BRANCHES TO FALL. THIS COULD INJURE THOSE OUTDOORS, AS WELL AS DAMAGE HOMES AND VEHICLES. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME BLOCKED BY DOWNED TREES. LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. UNSECURED LIGHT OBJECTS MAY BECOME PROJECTILES. * LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, BETHESDA, ANNANDALE, CLINTON, SPRINGFIELD, COLLEGE PARK, FORT WASHINGTON, GREENBELT, FAIRFAX, LANGLEY PARK, BELTSVILLE, VIENNA, GROVETON, FORESTVILLE, FALLS CHURCH, HUNTINGTON, LARGO, CORAL HILLS AND BLADENSBURG.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… GET INDOORS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WIND AND LIGHTNING. TREES AROUND YOU MAY BE DOWNED FROM DAMAGING WINDS, SO IF YOU ARE NEAR LARGE TREES, MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR. DON’T DRIVE UNDERNEATH TREES OR IN WOODED AREAS UNTIL THE THREAT HAS PASSED. && HAIL…1.00IN WIND…60MPH

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UPDATED: Severe Storms Bring Wind, Torrential Rain to Arlington.

Update at 7:45 p.m. — There have been reports of downed trees, branches and power lines in Arlington, but no major power outages have been reported by Dominion. Flights are Reagan National Airport are resuming.

No major flooding issues have been reported, though ARLnow.com’s office sprung a leak during the storm.

Update at 7:01 p.m. — The Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been extended until 7:30 p.m.

Update at 6:58 p.m. — A Flash Flood Warning has also been issued for Arlington.

The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a

* Flash Flood Warning for…
The District of Columbia…
South central Montgomery County in central Maryland…
Arlington County in northern Virginia…
The City of Falls Church in northern Virginia…
Northeastern Fairfax County in northern Virginia…
The City of Alexandria in northern Virginia…

* Until 1000 PM EDT.

* At 654 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing
heavy rain across the area. Around an inch of rain has fallen, and
an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain is possible over the next 1
to 2 hours leading to flash flooding in the metro area.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
deaths occur in vehicles.

(Updated at 6:55 p.m.) The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Arlington as a powerful line of storms rolls through the county.

More from the National Weather Service:

…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 700 PM EDT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA…SOUTHERN MONTGOMERY…NORTHWESTERN PRINCE GEORGES…SOUTHEASTERN LOUDOUN…FAIRFAX…EAST CENTRAL FAUQUIER…PRINCE WILLIAM…AND ARLINGTON COUNTIES…THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH…THE CITY OF MANASSAS PARK…THE CITY OF MANASSAS…THE CITY OF FAIRFAX AND THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA…

At 646 PM EDT, severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from Bethesda to Newington to 11 miles east of Bealeton, moving southeast at 35 mph.

HAZARD…70 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail.

SOURCE…Radar indicated.

IMPACT…Damaging winds will cause some trees and large branches to fall. This could injure those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roadways may become blocked by downed trees. Localized power outages are possible. Unsecured light objects may become projectiles.

Locations impacted include…
Arlington, Alexandria, Germantown, Centreville, Dale City, Rockville, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Reston, Annandale, Springfield, College Park, South Riding, Fort Washington, Herndon, Greenbelt, Fairfax, Langley Park, Fort Hunt and Vienna.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Prepare immediately for large hail and damaging winds. People outside should move to a shelter, inside a strong building and away from windows.

Reagan National Airport, meanwhile, has imposed a ground stop on flights due to the severe weather.

Photo (top) courtesy Milan

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UPDATE: Derecho Possible Tonight, Forecasters Say

Update at 2:25 p.m. — Forecasters warn that a derecho is possible tonight. The last such wind event to hit the region caused significant damage on June 29, 2012.

Earlier: Arlington County and much of the D.C. region is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch today.

The National Weather Service says severe storms are possible later today (Monday)

“Scattered severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts and large hail are possible this afternoon and evening,” NWS said in a Hazardous Weather Outlook statement.

Photo via @NWS_BaltWash

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Winter Storm Warning Issued for Arlington

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A Winter Storm Warning is set to take effect overnight tonight, as a snowstorm bears down on the D.C. area.

Forecasters say 4-8 inches of heavy snow accumulation is likely for Arlington and the immediate metro area, though even snow is possible.

From the National Weather Service:

…WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 8 PM EDT WEDNESDAY… * WHAT…HEAVY SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES ARE EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND NORTHERN MARYLAND AND NORTHERN AND NORTHWEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 2 AM TO 8 PM EDT WEDNESDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS. BE PREPARED FOR SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS IN VISIBILITY AT TIMES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL MAKE TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS OR IMPOSSIBLE. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL, KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT, FOOD AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&

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High Wind Watch Issued for Arlington, D.C. Region

Arlington County and the rest of the D.C. area is under a High Wind Watch from Thursday night to late Friday night.

Forecasters say damaging winds are likely on Friday and widespread power outages are possible. It may be “one of the strongest wind storms in at least three years,” according to the National Weather Service.

More from NWS:

…HIGH WIND WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A HIGH WIND WATCH, WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM LATE THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT. * TIMING…OVERNIGHT THURSDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT. * WINDS…NORTHWEST 25 TO 40 MPH WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR GUSTS AROUND 60 MPH. * IMPACTS…DAMAGING WINDS WILL BLOW DOWN TREES AND POWER LINES. WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES ARE POSSIBLE. TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A HIGH WIND WATCH MEANS THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR A HAZARDOUS HIGH WIND EVENT. SUSTAINED WINDS OF AT LEAST 40 MPH, OR GUSTS OF 58 MPH OR STRONGER MAY OCCUR. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS. &&

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Arlington Bracing for Snow, Wind and Cold

Much of the D.C. region is under a Winter Weather Advisory tonight as a coastal storm packing snow, icy cold temperatures and strong wind nears.

Arlington County crews have been mobilized and are treating roads in anticipation of an inch or so of snow tonight and tomorrow, potentially disrupting the morning commute.

As of 4 p.m., grocery store shelves in Clarendon still had plenty of milk and toilet paper, though the former was being frequently restocked by store employees. The scene, at least thus far, was nothing like that outside a D.C. Trader Joe’s store that was mobbed by customers last night.

https://twitter.com/ArlingtonDES/status/948664802389495808

More from the National Weather Service:

… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST THURSDAY… * WHAT… SNOW EXPECTED. PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS, INCLUDING DURING THE MORNING COMMUTE ON THURSDAY. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF AROUND ONE INCH ARE EXPECTED. * WHERE… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PORTIONS OF CENTRAL, NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHERN MARYLAND AND CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA. * WHEN… FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 11 AM EST THURSDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS… VERY COLD CONDITIONS MEAN THAT SNOW WILL QUICKLY STICK ON ROADS AND SIDEWALKS… MAKING THE THURSDAY MORNING COMMUTE DANGEROUS. PLAN AHEAD AND ALLOW EXTRA TIME TO GET TO YOUR DESTINATION IF TRAVELING LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT OR THURSDAY. BITTERLY COLD CONDITIONS WILL FOLLOW FOR LATE THURSDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND CAUSING SNOW TO REMAIN ON UNTREATED SURFACES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1.

More from VDOT:

Virginia Department of Transportation and contract crews will mobilize late Wednesday night to treat roads for snow forecasted to arrive before Thursday morning’s rush hour. A second week of frigid temperatures continues to turn falling precipitation into slick road conditions. Small amounts of snow falling on below-freezing roads can easily melt from the friction of vehicle tires and then quickly refreeze into a layer of ice.

Once fully mobilized, please watch for crews as they stage along roads ahead of time. Crews will treat roads with salt and sand as needed once snow begins to fall overnight Wednesday and will remain on duty until road conditions improve. Please give treatments trucks room to work, as they are very heavy and drive slowly.

Drivers are asked to:

  • Stay tuned to weather (see National Weather Service forecast).
  • If conditions are icy, avoid or delay trips for safety. Otherwise, allow plenty of extra time and reduce speeds significantly.
  • Assume any pavement may be slick. Crews are unable to plow a light coating, and even previously treated roads become slick quickly with low pavement and air temperatures.
  • Take it slow on bridges, ramps, overpasses, and other known trouble spots.
  • Ensure gas tanks and wiper fluid tanks are full.
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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 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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Local Woman Urges U.S. Virgin Islands Donations After Hurricane Irma Wreaks Havoc

After her adopted home of the U.S. Virgin Islands was battered by Hurricane Irma, a woman with connections to Arlington County is calling on others to donate to help the relief effort.

Victoria Lemmon grew up in Ashburn and her father and sister currently live and work in Arlington. She moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands two years ago when she graduated college and “started a life there, met amazing people who have done the same thing I did, people who started families, and families who relocated there to live the dream.”

She lives on St. John, the smallest of the three islands, which together with St. Thomas received the worst of the damage from the Category 5 storm.

More than half the homes on St. John have been destroyed, she said, along with 90 percent of the boats docked on the island, including houseboats. 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.

“St. John is nicknamed ‘Love City’ due to the never-ending kindness, and passion we have for our island family and home,” Lemmon said. “Though things are looking up with more help being sent to the island, we need more miracles to help us rebuild.”

Lemmon urged people on the U.S. mainland to donate online, either to the likes of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, or to reputable online fundraising campaigns.

Basketball great and Virgin Islands native Tim Duncan has raised more than $2 million through his “21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund,” while country music superstar Kenny Chesney, whose home on St. John was destroyed by the storm, is collecting donations via a new foundation he set up. There are also efforts to collect donated supplies to send to the islands.

Lemmon said that with coverage of Irma focused on the U.S. mainland as it made its way towards Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands were “overlooked.”

We need way more media attention to bring in donations for the people who are there and running out of food and water, we need donations for chainsaws and tools to help clear the debris. We are begging for help and attention to these U.S. citizens that have been overlooked in the week since the storm, due to media describing the first US landfall of Irma to be Florida.

The media overlooking the Virgin Islands and placing their main and general concern with Florida has left St. John even more devastated because we went days with no attention or help, which started to provoke crime. Peoples whose homes were destroyed lost even more by looters, and guns were stolen from our customs building.

More scenes from the USVI, via Twitter:

Photos courtesy Victoria Lemmon

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Local Resident’s ‘Hurricane Magnet’ Family Impacted By Harvey, Irma

It’s been an anxious couple of weeks for one Arlington resident who had three family members in the path of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Pat Shapiro, who lives in the Leeway Overlee neighborhood, has one son, Josh, in Houston; another son, Aaron, living in Miami; and her 89-year-old mother is a resident of Naples, Fla. All three were impacted to some degree.

“It’s like we’re a hurricane magnet,” said Shapiro, a 10-year library assistant at an Arlington public library.

Harvey slammed Texas and Louisiana in the United States, leaving more than 300,000 people without power, killing more than 60 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

The still-active although weakened Irma hammered Florida, and has caused flooding as far north as Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga. More than 2.6 million homes were without power at one stage in Florida.

Shapiro’s 65th birthday celebrations on August 25 meant Josh was in Arlington when Hurricane Harvey started to batter Houston, and forced him to stay put for a week. Unfortunately, Josh had just closed on a house in Houston the week before. When he returned, it was ruined by flood damage.

Thankfully, Shapiro said he had not moved in any of his furniture or other personal belongings, but the house itself needed to be gutted, and he cannot move in for between nine months and a year while it is repaired.

Josh needed to get to work when he returned to his home in Houston and rip out all the units and floorboards and also drill holes in the walls to let out moisture. And after his real estate agent, who lives nearby, posted on Facebook that he needed help, a group of volunteers intervened.

“He said all of a sudden, at 9:30 a.m., all these trucks and cars pull up and a group of about 30 people walked in his house and said, ‘We’re here to help,'” Shapiro said. “They worked until 9:30 p.m., they ripped out all the floors, they helped him get the carpet out, they helped him put holes in the walls because it had to start drying. He was flabbergasted.”

Shapiro’s other son, Aaron, escaped the worst of the storm. His condo building in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami managed to keep its power on, after management said they would be turning off the elevators and air conditioning and locking the doors to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

After evacuating his building, Aaron stayed with a friend in the nearby city of Coral Gables, where they lost power and saw significant wind damage to trees. The pair then were preparing to go out and do rescue work once the storm had subsided.

Across the state in Naples, Shapiro’s 89-year-old mother was put under mandatory evacuation orders from her home, just three blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. Her house, too, escaped the worst of the storm, although she had to move locations twice. She first went to Tallahassee, then went further north into North Carolina to stay with Shapiro’s sister after Irma’s path shifted.

Shapiro said that other friends of hers in the Naples area who stayed put had to take emergency shelter due to the high winds.

“They said it was very scary,” Shapiro said. “They said the winds were horrible, and they ended up spending the night in a closet they were so scared, because the wind was so bad.”

The experience left Shapiro worried for her family’s safety, but grateful that nothing worse happened to anyone.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” she said. “[It’s] been a one-two-three whammy. First the Houston thing, which I was terribly worried about, then this hurricane [Irma]. But all in all, my family came through in such good shape compared to so many others.”

Photo No. 1 via Flickr user Antti Lipponen, photos No. 2 and No. 3 via Flickr user Jill Carlson, photo No. 4 via Flickr user Coast Guard News.

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Morning Notes

NBC4: County Agency Failed to Report Alleged Sex Abuse — “The I-Team found [Arlington County Child Protective Services] failed to notify state officials to revoke the license of a former Arlington Public Schools teacher whom they investigated for sexually abusing a former third grade student. The teacher was able to work as an assistant principal in the Prince George’s County Public Schools district for years because of the error.” [NBC Washington]

Jury Duty Process Starting Soon — The Arlington Circuit Court is starting its annual juror qualification process with questionnaires set to be mailed to randomly selected Arlington and Falls Church residents in early September. “These questionnaires are used to qualify residents for jury duty which begins January 1, 2018 and ends December 31, 2018,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Heat and Storms in Today’s Forecast — Expect sweltering temperatures today, with a heat index around 100, followed by the threat of potentially strong storms tonight, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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