RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Wednesday, giving state authorities the ability to aid local governments during the upcoming winter storm in the next 48 hours.
The order will allow state agencies to identify and give resources where they are needed in the state. It doesn’t apply to individuals or private businesses.
The governor also authorized an exemption for the number of hours of service that trucks hauling gasoline and heating oil can run in the state until Jan. 13 at 5 p.m., or whenever the weather “crisis” has ended.
“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities,” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”
Here’s a list of recommendations for citizens to stay safe in the upcoming storm:
- Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this weather event unless travel is absolutely necessary. In addition to slick roads, blowing snow could reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile at times in some areas. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
- If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
- Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp. Or dial 5-1-1 from any phone for the latest travel conditions.
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flashlight and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
- Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
- Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
- Bring pets inside from the cold.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
- Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
- If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
- If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.