THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
Updated as of 2:45 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 12:
The city is limiting initial shelter operations to Kellam High School as Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall further south than anticipated, though officials stressed that they continue to monitor the storm’s track and prepare for its effects. Shelter options will be expanded as needed.
“We are breathing a sigh of relief,” City Manager Dave Hansen said in a statement.
Shelter at Kellam High Schoolwill still open at 6 p.m., Wednesday, so people can relocate ahead of the storm. Kellam, at 2665 West Neck Road, will also operate as a medically-friendly shelter starting at 8 a.m., Thursday.
Information on shelter requirements is available at this link.
Shelter also will be available for pets at Landstown Elementary School, 2212 Recreation Drive, starting at 8 a.m., Thursday. Space is limited. Call (757) 385-7460 for more information.
Earlier posts follow with some updates
COURTHOUSE — Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen today said residents in the southern city should evacuate before Hurricane Florence hits.
The areas include Sandbridge and areas within the city’s southern watershed, especially around Back Bay and including Blackwater. City Communications Director Julie Hill on Monday said via email the area of concern is below Indian River, New Bridge and Sandbridge roads.
The city may be looking at hurricane force winds and 20 inches of rain, the city said in a statement Monday evening, noting that models are still shifting. As of early Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported Florence was a major Category 4 storm after it intensified Monday. The National Hurricane Center anticipated releasing additional warnings about the storm on Tuesday.
“I think it’s very important for folks who live in Sandbridge, Back Bay and the southern watershed who have had recent experience with regards to southern wind tides,” Hansen said during a press conference this afternoon, “folks who understand what a southerly wind is going to do to them and extra precipitation, lots of rain, has done to them over the last three years.”
Hansen said he anticipated preparing a declaration of an emergency in Virginia Beach, which would be taken up for action by the City Council on Tuesday.
“We’ll issue an evacuation order for Sandbridge, Back Bay and the southern watershed,” Hansen said. “In either of the two landfall scenarios, we believe those areas will be in a higher risk category than anywhere else in our city.”
Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday declared a state of emergency in the commonwealth, and his office announced Hampton Roads residents in Zone A should evacuate. People can visit the state’s hurricane evacuation tool to search their address and determine their zone at this link, but Zone A includes communities such as Creeds, Munden and Pungo.
The city is working to provide shelter starting on Thursday morning at Kellam High School, Old Donation School and Corporate Landing Middle School, as well as medically assisted shelter at the Field House in the Princess Anne Commons area, Hansen said.
Additional shelter locations may be available starting on Friday.
“It is incumbent upon every citizen of Virginia Beach to prepare themselves for the conditions we are going to face,” Hansen said.
During an interview, city Emergency Manager Erin Sutton said citizens should keep an eye on the storm and understand that existing wet conditions mean people in these areas should make a plan to evacuate before it arrives.
“They need to start thinking about it now,” she said.
On Wednesday, Sutton said citizens who want to evacuate should to so immediately.
“If you want to leave, you need to leave today,” she said.
Sutton and Art Kohn, a spokesperson for the city fire department, said this week that people who decide to stay in areas that were evacuated need to understand that emergency services may not be able to reach them.
Sutton also said citizens should contact 311 with questions about city services. That number is not an emergency number.
Mayor Louis Jones on Wednesday urged citizens to prepare with food and water, find a safe place and stay there.
Storm Drains [Updated Tuesday]
From the city:
“The City has received reports that the recent heavy bursts of rain have caused isolated street flooding and that yard debris bags and even timber are blocking storm drain inlets in some places. The City has more than 40,000 storm drains. Please Adopt A Drain in your neighborhood to make sure all visible impediments are removed. If the water doesn’t drain after the rain subsides, report street flooding and drains that require maintenance by calling (757) 385‐1470 or 311 or make a service request online or through the VB Works app, available for iPhone and Android.”
Sutton on Tuesday said citizens can help the city by clearing storm drains ahead of the storm.
Zone A Evacuations
From the city Monday evening:
“Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered an evacuation of residents in areas throughout Hampton Roads designated as Zone A beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday. City Manager Dave Hansen has encouraged those who live in Zone A the southern part of the City, including Sandbridge, Back Bay and Blackwater, to consider relocating in advance of the storm as the storm track appears to pose the most significant threat to this part of our city. For residents who plan on leaving the area and traveling significantly inland, the governor’s schedule attempts to spread out traffic and minimize gridlock. For residents who plan to stay locally, the city of Virginia Beach will be opening shelters starting at 8 a.m., Thursday morning.”
Shelter Info [Updated Wednesday]
The city will open an initial shelter at Kellam High School, 2665 West Neck Road, at 6 p.m., Wednesday. Kellam has room for about 1,200 people, according to Deputy City Manager Steve Cover.
Kellam will also operate as a medically-friendly shelter starting at 8 a.m., Thursday.
Locations could be expanded as need emerges.
In a statement, the city recommends that people relocating to a shelter should bring at least three days of supplies for each family member.
Sutton on Wednesday said people should bring snacks and water and consider any special dietary needs. However, the city schools will provide meals for people in the shelters, she said.
Parking [Updated Tuesday]
Citizens can park their vehicles for free in advance of the storm for free at municipal garages at 9th and 30th streets at the Oceanfront. This starts at noon on Wednesday and lasts until noon Monday, Sept. 17 depending upon weather, according to the city.
People can also park vehicles at the municipal garages at Town Center, though not in 24-hour reserved spaces, which are leased by residents and may result in towing.
The city urges citizens to use caution in garages, including amid any power outages.
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