State of Emergency in VA After Friday Storm

Governor says citizens should prepare for a multi-day power restoration and recovery effort.

UPDATE - Sunday, 7 a.m.: For a full update of conditions, outages, water restrictions and more across Nothern Virginia on Sunday, see this story:


Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) declared a state of emergency Saturday morning as Virginia prepares for what he says will be a "multi-day event with the potential for further problems."

At least 2.5 million people in the state lost power in the which ripped through the area with winds from 60 to 80 miles per hour around 10:30 p.m. last night. There were six fatalities - two in Fairfax County, the governor said. All were killed when trees fell on homes or cars. 

"This is the largest non-hurricane power outage in Virginia history," McDonnell said. "It is the fifth-largest overall. That means it is going to be awhile before power is restored."

Compounding the recovery: no storm preparations (like the state and individuals would have in a hurricane) and out-of-state crews Virginia power companies could ordinarily count on are busy with efforts in their own states. The storm ran from Indiana to North Carolina on Friday.

The governor is urging people to work together - to help neighbors who may be without power, check on senior citizens and take it easy during cleanup as temperatures will near 100 degrees again Saturday.

"This is a dangerous sitution," McDonnell said. "Our biggest concern is the health and safety of our citizens. People should exercise great caution in this high heat."

In a state of emergency, the commonwealth can call up the National Guard. McDonnell says he has called 300 members to assist the Virginia Department of Transportation with traffic control.

Authorities can also put in place shelters. There is no word yet on the location of Northern Virginia shelters, but Patch will provide updates when that is available.  Farifax County emergency management will also have that information on its website.

Rodney Blevins, Dominion Virginia Power vice president of electric distribution operations, said public health and safety facilities are the top priority for service returns. Nearly one million Dominion customers lost power Friday. About 200,000 have had power restored as of noon Saturday, he said.

Work will continue around the clock during the multi-day restoration effort, he said. For updated info, check here:  https://www.dom.com/storm-center/index.jsp.

"With triple-digit temperatures and high humidity expected for the next several days, Dominion is urging all residents – especially the elderly and young children – to take precautions and seek relief at cooling shelters, public libraries or similar facilities if appropriate," he said.

"We will restore power as quickly and safely as possible in these challenging conditions." 

John Strother July 08, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Doesn't burrying of cables make it almost impossible to add a new line or repair a line that has been damaged? Not to mention, that the soils eat away the protective coating to the wires and also that it puts the wires down to the level of rodents that love the taste of this wire coating? Burying utility lines isn't always the perfect solution, it also adds to the cost of installation.
Elizabeth Ann Lovic July 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
I have left a comment regarding rats V underground cables John - I may have posted on a different page - sorry! We have rats in the UK John, there are certain coatings which make chewing through impervious - to dig down if a repair or addition is needed is quite easy. that was my job, to supply the engineers with the blueprints so they knew exactly where to dig. Florida would also have the answer to the rodent problem. My concern is, that the people of Fairfax, or anywhere else be spared this from happening again. I truly respect your point of view, but for me the health, safety and well being of all should come before money, it has been done, is being done, and more should be done. Nothing is perfect, but with todays technology it should be a viable option.
Kevin Chisholm July 08, 2012 at 06:09 PM
As a former consultant to FEMA, I know that in rural areas undergrounding cables is cost-prohibitive (though it can be done). The life cycle cost of burying electric power cables in rural areas is 5 times to the cost of overhead – even in coastal areas prone to hurricanes! In time, heavily suburban and urban areas can be undergrounded. It is still VERY expensive. If a community chooses to do so, they are likely to do it in sections (one area at a time). The good story is that the most vulnerable areas (due to old trees) are less vulnerable now. I think we need to think about WHY the storms happened. And what the responsible thing to do is. THAT is why I am running for Congress. Because the incumbent does not, is not cable of that, and or is not willing to face the music. Kevin Chisholm Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (Virginia’s 10th Congressional) www.chisholmforcongress.com
Elizabeth Ann Lovic July 08, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Dear Mr. Chisholm, First of all good luck in your race to be elected to Congress. This vast and beautiful country will find a solution not only to the best way of preventing or averting another storm such as was unleashed recently, but eventually find a way to make sure people do not have to suffer as they surely have in the aftermath of this last storm. i still like the idea of under the ground cables, but do recognize the expense of doing so. We can never tame Mother Nature, so maybe we should be a little better prepared. There have to be many capable brains out there who can think of a way to do this ....
Kevin Chisholm July 09, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Ms. Lovic, Thanks. I am afraid that luck will not get me into Congress. I hope I win your support! You can sign up for a newsletter at my website, if you like.


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