City officials are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Joaquin this weekend and the strong probability of river flooding caused by the expected heavy rainfall over the next several days. Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a State of Emergency for the Commonwealth at 5 p.m. last night [September 30, 2015] in advance of the extreme weather.
The City’s Emergency Managers, Fire Chief Eddie Allen and Fire Lieutenant Victor Podbielski, are in contact with state authorities via email and scheduled conference calls as the storm moves into the region.
While Fredericksburg could be spared the worst of the rainfall compared to other areas of the East Coast, the City must be prepared to manage the impact of the total rainfall accumulations along the entire Rappahannock River basin that stretches west to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The primary concern for Fredericksburg is the serious potential for damage from flooding of the Rappahannock River. According to the National Weather Service, the river is currently projected to crest at 13.2 feet at 1 a.m. Sunday morning, although this prediction is likely to change depending on the eventual track and severity of the hurricane.
A flash flood watch has been issued for the City from 8 a.m. Friday morning through 8 p.m. Saturday evening. A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that could lead to flash flooding along streets and other areas in the locality.
The secondary concern for the City is the probability of widespread damaging effects from heavy rainfall and water saturation. These include downed trees and power lines, flooded basements,
standing water in roadways, and backed up sewer lines. The Fredericksburg Fire Department and the Public Works Department are preparing for these events by increasing staffing and staging necessary equipment to mitigate the damage and impact to residents.
Residents should be ready!
To prepare for the expected weather event, residents should take precautions to protect property by removing valuables from areas in the home that are below ground level and moving vehicles away from parking spots on streets and in lots that are likely to be impacted by high water.
Residents should also make the following preparations in advance:
– Sign up for text alerts/weather warnings at FredericksburgAlert.com
– Pack a hurricane supply kit with a minimum three-day supply of essential items such as water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, extra batteries and prescribed medications.
– Decide how and where everyone in the family will meet up with each other if separated.
– Be prepared to evacuate, especially if the home is located in a low lying area or along the river. If evacuation becomes necessary, do not return to the home until local officials deem that it is safe to do so.
Residents should additionally heed these warnings:
– Stay out of the river! Recreational use of the river during flooding conditions is extremely dangerous and unnecessarily risks the lives of first responders should a rescue be needed.
– Do not drive though flooded areas of roadways! It is impossible to know exactly how deep or how fast floodwaters may be, and it only takes six inches of swiftly moving water to sweep away a full-sized vehicle.
– Do not drive around barricades! Roads may be temporarily closed due to high water or damage to the asphalt surface or underlying road structure. The barricades will be removed as soon as the conditions are rendered safe.
While it is hoped that Hurricane Joaquin continues to track eastward out to sea and the impact to Fredericksburg is minimal, I urge all City residents to take the necessary precautions and remain safe through the storm.
River Road, Harrell Road Closed in Stafford
Prepare Now for Possible Power Outages
Heavy Rain, Potential Flooding Predicted Through the Weekend
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