Storm updates

The latest word

We stopped updating this report on Tuesday. For the latest version of post-Hurricane Sandy news in Rappahannock, see the Rappahannock News eEdition.

Check here for updates on Hurricane Sandy-related news throughout the day Monday and Tuesday. We’re also asking readers to post any of their own news as comments below (you don’t need to sign in, but you should enter your email address, which will not be published).

And if you have any storm-related photos, please email them to editor@rappnews.com — or post them to our Facebook page.

Rappahannock County offices provisionally open Tuesday

Rappahannock County Administrator John W. McCarthy announced this morning (Tuesday, Oct. 30) that government offices will open as personnel are able to make their way to them. “The power outages and storm damage will limit services and some offices’ ability to open, so please call before you attempt to visit,” he said in an email announcement.

The county had declared a state of emergency Monday morning, due to Hurricane Sandy’s impact. All county government offices (including the landfill) closed Monday, Oct. 29 at 12 noon.

The county’s public schools remained closed Tuesday, according to the Rappahannock County Public Schools website.

State police update, 8 a.m. Tuesday

The City of Alexandria is reporting 3 buildings with roofs partially torn off by wind. One is a residential, garden-style apartment building and now condemned as a result. Twenty of its residents evacuated/relocated. Approximately 10 homes in the city have tree damage. No reported or observed flooding. 10,598 Dominion Virginia Power customers without power. Damage assessment to begin today (Tuesday) at daylight.

Power outages peaked statewide at around midnight with 204,663 power outages. By 5 a.m., reported power outages were at 183,721 statewide. The greatest increases in outages overnight were occurring in Northern and Southwest Virginia. Remaining outages were in Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore, Northern Neck and Southside Virginia.

There are currently 35 local shelters open statewide providing services to approximately 546 individuals. The majority of the shelters are located in the Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia regions.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reports motorists will encounter slick travel conditions in areas of Southwest Virginia this morning, mostly in the higher elevations. Be alert to snow-covered primary and secondary roads in Bland, Smyth, Tazewell and Russell counties. Also be alert to snow-covered sections of roadway on Route 58 between Damascus and Volney; Routes 83 and 80 in the Haysi area; and Route 16 between Smyth County and Volney. Interstate routes in southwestern Virginia have scattered snow and ice patches. Motorists will also encounter snow and ice patches on the majority of main routes in Lee, Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties. Secondary routes in Bland, Tazewell, Smyth, Russell, Grayson, Wise and Dickenson counties are snow-covered.

Get the latest road conditions at www.511virginia.org or by downloading the 511 mobile app. View the entire list of roads closed due to the storm, sortable by county, at http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions. Report downed trees and hazardous road conditions to 1-800-367-ROAD (1-800-367-7623).

Southbound traffic on Interstate 81 at the 105-mile marker in Montgomery County should be restored shortly. Traffic is currently being re-routed through Radford at this time. State police are still investigating the two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes and working to clear the scene. The crash occurred at 12:21 a.m. Tuesday. The crash was not storm-related. A southbound tractor-trailer had become disabled and pulled off onto the shoulder. A short time later another southbound tractor-trailer ran off the road and struck the disabled vehicle. The crash caused one of the tractor-trailers to jackknife across the southbound lanes of I-81. At least one driver suffered minor injuries.

Estimated 1,800 REC customers without power in Rappahannock County

As of 9:30 p.m., Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s online outage map (at www.myrec.coop) reported the county’s largest outage centered at Sperryville Pike and F.T. Valley Road (Route 231), affecting 1,400 customers. Another outage in Amissville appeared to be affecting 292 customers, and assorted other outages in Flint Hill, Huntly, Boston and other locations added up to just under 1,800 customers without power.

In a statement released at 6 a.m. Tuesday, REC said it had about 17,300 outages across its 22-county service area. With the severest weather subsiding, said spokesperson Ann Lewis, restoration efforts are underway and storm damage assessment will continue throughout the day. REC advises its members and the public to be aware of the hazardous conditions created by the high winds, flooding and snow. This will be a multi-day event and members should expect to be without power for several days.

William M. Carter, REC’s director of operations and construction services, said, “When major outages such as this occur on our system, we arrange for mutual aid to assist REC crews. Cooperative crews from Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee are joining REC field personnel and are prepared to work extended hours in the field. Office employees will continue to provide 24-hour phone coverage until restoration efforts are complete.”

“Damage has occurred at many points along our distribution system,” said Carter. “Repairs must begin with major facilities such as substations and main circuits that supply power to distribution lines serving the largest number of customers. Critical public safety facilities are also a restoration priority. We then move to repairing smaller lines and restoring power to individual homes.” The Cooperative asks for the patience and understanding of its members as restoration work will be done as safely and quickly as possible.


VDOT report, 7:45 a.m. Tuesday

Downed trees, secondary road flooding and snow/ice conditions

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews continue to work around the clock with three major events: flooding, downed trees and snow and ice. At this hour, all interstate and major roads are open. More than 280 roads, mostly secondary roads, are closed across the state. Flooding and downed trees and debris are causing secondary road closures mostly in the northern Virginia, Staunton and eastern Virginia regions.

The only secondary road reported closed in Rappahannock County through VDOT’s website was Main Street in Washington, were power lines were down.

Although there is no longer a tropical system, the storm is still packing a punch with high gusty winds across the state and blowing and drifting snow in western portions of Virginia, where about six inches of snow is reported in some of Virginia’s westernmost counties and continues to fall this morning. VDOT crews are treating roads to keep them as safe as possible.

In Northern Virginia, HOV restrictions have been lifted on interstates 66, 95, 395 and the Dulles Toll Road. 107 signals throughout northern Virginia are not functioning. Drivers should treat these intersections as four-way stops.

In Hampton Roads, all tunnels, water crossings, interstate highways and primary roads are open in most areas. Two severely impacted areas include Accomack and Northampton counties. In these areas, several secondary roads remain closed due to storm surge flooding and downed trees.
Motorists are urged to limit travel today because of road flooding and debris in the road. Even small branches can damage a vehicle or cause the driver to lose control.
About 1,000 VDOT crews and contractors are working throughout the storm to keep the roads clear as possible and motorists informed of road conditions. VDOT crews are removing debris from roadways, which involves cutting and hauling fallen trees, branches and other obstacles. This is being done in coordination with power crews as they fix power lines. VDOT also assists the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other state agencies, localities and emergency responders with traffic control, detours and road closures.

For a list of the latest road conditions go to http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions.


Schools closed

Officials decided Sunday that Rappahannock County Public Schools would be closed today, Monday, Oct. 29 — as well as tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 30.

For the latest updates, visit www.rappahannockschools.us.


VDOT’s 9:30 p.m. Monday report:

Flooding, power lines close Central Virginia roads

CULPEPER — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is reporting 17 secondary roads in Central Virginia are closed at this hour due to Hurricane Sandy. Twelve are flooded and another five are impassable due to power lines or trees that have fallen. All primary roads and interstate highways in the region are open.

For the latest information about road closures check VDOT’s traffic web site, www.511Virginia.org. Click on the red bar at top left for Hurricane Sandy road closures and advisories.

As of 9:30 p.m., the road closures page had no reports of flooded or closed roads in Rappahannock County.

Travel is extremely hazardous due to the high wind, heavy blowing rain and danger of trees and debris in the roads. Many roads that are not closed are nevertheless hazardous due to tree limbs and other debris that has fallen into the road. VDOT is advising drivers across Virginia to postpone travel until after the storm has passed.

VDOT crews are working across Central Virginia to clear debris and reopen roads, but their efforts are hampered by the high winds and rain. The crews are coordinating their efforts with utility companies when power lines are involved. VDOT will continue working around the clock to reopen roads and repair damage after the storm passes.

As the storm moves inland overnight high winds and heavy rain are forecast to continue into Tuesday morning. Conditions are likely to change quickly during the height of the storm. Residents are advised to tune in to local media for the latest weather information. Anyone who must drive during the storm should observe the following precautions:

· Watch for tree limbs and other debris in the roadway. Even small branches can damage a vehicle or cause the motorist to lose control.

· Assume all fallen power lines are electrified and dangerous. Never attempt to drive across or step over downed lines.

· If a traffic signal is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

· Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.

· Expect the unexpected. Reduce speed and be prepared to stop without warning.

In addition to the real-time road conditions and weather forecasts on VDOT’s traffic and travel Web site, www.511Virginia.org, the site also has live traffic camera images for many major highways, including Interstate 64, I-66 and Routes 29 and 250 in Central Virginia. Motorists can call 511 from any telephone in Virginia for road and traffic conditions on all major highways in the state.


American Red Cross Shelters Opening Today

Monday, October 29 — In response to the storm, the American Red Cross is opening shelters today (in the counties south and east of Rappahannock County). Anyone who feels uncertain about staying in their home during the storm is encouraged to come to one of the shelters.

Madison County – Madison County Volunteer Fire Department on U.S. 29. Opens at 3 p.m.

Culpeper County – Salem Volunteer Fire Department, Sperryville Pike. Opens at 3 p.m.

Fauquier County – Liberty High School at intersection of Route 28 and U.S. 17. Opens at 6 p.m.

Anyone who plans to stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring:

· prescription medications

· extra clothing

· pillows, blankets and other comfort items

· hygiene supplies

· important documents

· don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.


From VDOT Monday morning, Oct. 29:

Hurricane Sandy Impact on Virginia’s Roads

RICHMOND – Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) urges motorists to limit travel on roadways until unsafe weather conditions pass. Flooding, high winds and downed trees and power lines will be the hazards.

Since the impacts of Hurricane Sandy started over the weekend, flooding has closed more than 30 secondary roads mainly in the Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads regions. The stormy weather is expected to bring heavy rain and high wind gusts across the state this morning with the northern region of Virginia hit the hardest.

About 1,000 VDOT crews and contractors will work throughout the storm to keep the roads as safe as possible and motorists informed of road conditions. VDOT crews will remove debris from roadways, which will involve cutting and hauling fallen trees, branches and other obstacles. This will be done in coordination with power crews as they fix power lines. VDOT will also assist the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other state agencies, localities and emergency responders with traffic control, detours and road closures.

Crews in the western region of the state are standing by for snow removal. The storm is expected to cause cold weather, producing heavy snow fall in the higher elevations of western Virginia.

In the Hampton Roads region, all tunnels and water crossings are open. They are being monitored closely for storm impacts. In the event these facilities can no longer operate safely, they may be closed to motorists until the storm has passed and are deemed safe for travel. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is open but restricted to cars, pick-up trucks, mini-vans and SUVs.

Secondary road closures are reported in York, Richmond, Patrick, Northumberland, Matthews, Lancaster, King William, Isle of Wight and Essex counties. High wind advisories are posted on many roads in the Hampton Roads and eastern Virginia regions.

For a full list of road closures and conditions, click http://www.511virginia.org/mobile/?menu_id=conditions

Message to motorists:

· Limit travel during height of storm.
· Monitor local weather and traffic reports before getting into the car.
· Before heading out the door, get the latest road conditions by calling 511, visit www.511virginia.org or download the mobile app from the 511 web site.

Other information resources:

Report downed trees or hazardous road conditions – Call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).

Prepare for the storm and find out about other VDOT hurricane preparedness efforts – Visit www.VDOT.Virginia.gov

Hampton Roads area traffic updates are available around the clock on Twitter by following @511hamptonroads. For general VDOT information, follow @VaDOT.

VDOT’s Facebook page will also be updated throughout the storm. https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaDOT


From Rappahannock Electric Coop on Sunday, Oct. 28:

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative Is Prepared for Hurricane Sandy

Fredericksburg, Va. – All Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) personnel and field crews are ready for power outages that may occur when Hurricane Sandy’s winds, rains and possible flooding moves through our territory. In preparation, REC has secured additional crews from other cooperatives and utility contractors to join our workforce, responding immediately when weather conditions allow.

REC encourages its members to be safe and prepared by using the following tips:

· If you see downed electrical wires, do not go near them. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move or touch them with any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by tree limbs, leaves or water. Report all downed wires to REC and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.

· If your power goes out, turn off all lights and appliances to prevent overloaded circuits when power is restored.

· Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios are working. Also, make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on power outages can be heard on most local radio and television stations.

· Avoid opening your freezer to see if food is still frozen. Every time you open the door, room-temperature air enters and speeds the thawing process. Most fully loaded freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 36 to 48 hours; half-full freezers will keep food frozen for approximately 24 hours.

· If you use a portable electric generator, do not connect it directly to household wiring. Power from generators can back feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs.

Members can report downed power lines, outages, and check service restoration status by computer or mobile device at www.myrec.coop. They also can call 800-552-3904. When reporting an outage, it is helpful if members have their REC account number available. Information regarding the outage will be updated on both REC’s website and Facebook page.

Members should have items like batteries, lanterns, a can opener and a battery-powered radio on hand. A list of suggestions is available on the Outage Center section of the REC website. Any member who is dependent on electricity-powered medical equipment should take steps now to seek alternative shelter or a source of backup power, as appropriate.

REC provides electric service to over 155,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., Rappahannock maintains more than 16,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For information about REC, please visit myrec.coop.

Update from REC Monday, Oct. 29, 11:30 a.m.:

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative Prepares With Safety First

Fredericksburg, Va. – Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s (REC) crews are standing by for the extensive damage expected when Hurricane Sandy blows through the Cooperative’s 22-county service territory. REC remains focused on customer communication and is staffing the Cooperative’s contact center around the clock until restoration efforts are complete. REC has additional contract tree-trimming crews, construction line crews, as well as mutual aid crews from Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. They are pre-staged and ready to respond.

Much of REC’s service area is rural and difficult to access even under normal circumstances. This hurricane has the potential to create dangerous conditions resulting in outages that could stretch over several days. Members are advised to make preparations for that possibility.

While prepared to restore service to members as quickly as possible, the safety of REC’s employees and members is always the top priority. It is likely that the projected heavy rain, flooding and tree debris will result in hazardous conditions, including unsafe and inaccessible roads that will delay damage assessment and service restoration. Also, certain types of work requiring the use of bucket trucks cannot be safely completed in extremely high winds.

REC anticipates that an estimated time for restoration of the entire system may not be available until damage assessments are complete and the Cooperative works through the first phases of the restoration process to repair the electric system backbone and public safety sites.

If you experience an outage, call 800-552-3904 and follow the voice commands to report your outage. Smartphone users can go to the Outage Center on REC’s mobile website and select the Report Outage option.

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