May 15 - 21 Is Hurricane and Flood Preparedness Week

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

May 6, 2005


May 15 - 21 Is Hurricane and Flood Preparedness Week

Knowing what to do before, during and after severe storms can mean the difference between life and death. To alert residents to the potential dangers of hurricanes and floods, and to educate them about preparing for these natural hazards, Governor Mark R. Warner has declared May 15 - 21 as Hurricane and Flood Preparedness Week in the commonwealth of Virginia.

“During Hurricane and Flood Preparedness Week we hope that Fairfax County residents will pay attention to specific hurricane and flood safety tips,” said C. Douglas Bass, emergency management coordinator for Fairfax County. “If everyone will become familiar with actions that should be taken before, during and after storms and severe weather, our residents will be much better prepared to respond in case of inclement weather.”

Fairfax County residents can take one precaution now by registering for alerts from the CEAN – Community Emergency Alert Network – offered by the county through the Office of Emergency Management. The CEAN will deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to county residents during a major crisis or emergency. Messages will be sent to e-mail accounts, cell phones, text pagers, satellite phones and wireless PDAs registered on the system. Those registered on the CEAN will be provided a personal connection to real-time updates, instructions on where to go, protective actions that need to be taken and other important information.

In addition, persons also may register for any or all of the additional CEAN alert categories, including severe weather 24/7 and severe weather 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday. To register for the Community Emergency Alert Network, visit the Web page

Fairfax County also is prepared to respond to severe weather. It was the first county in Virginia to become certified as “StormReady,” a program created by the National Weather Service that focuses on improving communication and preparedness in communities through outreach and public awareness education. Communities that are a part of this nationwide program are even more prepared for all types of severe weather, because they have detailed and clear guidance to improve procedures and formalize plans for hazardous weather situations.

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, in cooperation with the National Weather Service and state emergency management officials, offers the following safety tips to protect lives and reduce property damage:

Before the Storm

  • Know your risk. Consult your local emergency management office to find out if your area is flood-prone or for local preparedness information.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, identify where to go if you are told to evacuate and the safest route to get there.  If there is a flood, you may only have minutes to get to safety. Choose several places – a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter.  Remember, public shelters and many motels don’t allow pets in their facilities.
  • Get ready for a possible power outage by gathering a minimum one-week supply of foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking, such as canned goods, as well as bottled water, flashlights with extra batteries, a first-aid kit and battery-powered radio. If you need to evacuate, make sure you can consolidate these items into a portable “go” kit, such as a backpack or duffel bag.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio for National Weather Service reports and severe weather warnings. 
  • Cut dead trees and limbs that could fall on your home.
  • If your home or business is in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a current flood insurance policy (not typically part of a standard insurance policy).  A 30-day waiting period is generally required to purchase flood insurance, so take time now to check with your insurance agent to learn more.
  • Take pictures of your property before the storm to help validate your claim and remember to take your policies with you if you need to evacuate.

When a Hurricane Is Approaching

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A hurricane or flood watch means possible danger. If the danger increases, a hurricane or flood warning will be issued.
  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water.) Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
  • Fill your bathtub with water to use for toilet flushing in case water services are unavailable following the storm.
  • Bring in garbage cans, lawn furniture and other items that could blow away.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank. Functional gas stations will be in short supply in a power outage.

If Heavy Rains Occur

  • Be aware that floods are deceptive. Avoid already flooded areas. Floodwaters that are above your knees are dangerous. Turn around and go back to higher ground.
  • If you find floodwaters on the road while driving, turn around and find an alternate route.  The road could be washed out and rapidly rising water could lift your car and carry it away.

After the Storm

  • Listen to your local radio stations for official disaster relief information and instructions.
  • Prepare to be without power, telephone or any outside services for a week or more.
  • Watch out for downed power lines, weakened structures, rodents and snakes, and avoid standing water.
  • Avoid drinking tap water unless officials say it is safe to do so. Eat only foods you are absolutely sure are safe.
  • Be extra careful when handling power tools, gas lanterns and matches.
  • Operate generators outdoors only in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. Poor ventilation can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death.
  • Avoid using candles as a light source. Deadly fires can result.

Even when hurricanes strike other areas of the country, they can still cause significant damage and loss of life in Virginia. In fact, some of the worst storms in Virginia’s history were from hurricanes that made landfall in other states. In 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall in Mississippi, but killed 153 people in Virginia, making it the commonwealth’s deadliest hurricane on record. Two years ago, Hurricane Isabel made landfall in North Carolina, but Virginia suffered 36 deaths and more than $1.9 billion in damages.

For more information on hurricane and flood preparedness, contact the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 703-324-2362, TTY 711 or visit the emergency information page on the county’s Web site at



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