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Hurricane Sandy Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy and its impacts are on the way. Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, County Executive Ed Long and other county staff will take your questions at 6 p.m. Sunday from the Emergency Operations Center. Submit your questions now and follow responses below beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday. The discussion will be archived so you can view responses later.

Sharon Bulova : Welcome to the online chat regarding Hurricane Sandy. We will answer as many questions as we can. Fairfax County Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. Federal Government offices will be closed on Monday. Fairfax County is still receiving late breaking news on weather conditions and will soon be making a decision regarding the status of County operations. I appreciate your participation in this online chat. I look forward to your questions.

Gallows RD : Ms. Bulova, Please ask VDOT and the power company to please focus restoring lost power to traffic signals along the bus routes. I use the 401 Connector bus to get to work and there was a long detour due to a traffic signal being out for days last spring (Derecho storm) at Gallows and Hummer. This was a long detour causing a major bus stop in Annandale to be skipped. I cannot drive and I depend on these buses to run so I can get to work. Thank you.

Sharon Bulova : Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely pass this on to VDOT, the Police, and Virginia Power.

Ginger P : Will polling places be open Monday, weather permitting?

Sharon Bulova : In Virginia, this decsion is being made on a local basis and we will be making a decision shortly. Listen to the radio and sign up for the County's Emergency Blog for the most current information regarding this.

Raceway Farms : Where can I get sandbags. All stores are sold out!

Sharon Bulova : Sandbags are available at many hardware stores in the area. The County is not distributing sandbags.

Edward Long : Thanks for the many questions. I am currently discussing our options on operating status for Monday with regional officials.  Record sustained winds are anticipated from noon tomorrow until Tuesday morning. I anticipate a decision will be made later tonight.  News of this decision will be released as soon as available.

Judy : Will there be shelters available? Pet Friendly?

Sharon Bulova : If there is a need, there will be shelters available. We will publicly announce them on the County's blog and through the media. We will be accomodating pets at some locations. Blog address:

Existing Fairfax County homeless shelters will be operating on a no-turnaway status.

KL : When do you suggest we begin sheltering at home--when should we get off the roads?

Dave Rohrer : Safety is our top priority for our community and for across the region.  As the storm approaches, there has been some uncertainty as to its impact here, but as it draws nearer it is clear we are going to experience significant rainfall and high sustained wind speed and gusts, particularly from daybreak Monday through early Tuesday morning.  We ask all persons to stay home if possible and avoid all unnecessary travel.  Children are often attracted to creeks and streams, please monitor them closely and do not allow them to play near these.  Water can be deceptively swift during these storms.  Similarly, motorists should avoid driving through standing water on roadways.  It may be deeper and swifter than believed, and the roadway could also have been washed away under the water surface.  Remember "turn around, don't drown."        

Bea in Vienna : Could you please remind people about the dangers of swollen creeks and streams, especially for children. I live in Vienna and this community is still grieving the tragic loss of a child during last year's flooding with Hurricane Gustav.

Sharon Bulova : Thank you for the reminder. We will make sure that this reminder is shared via the media.

Anonymous User : Will the Fairfax County courts be closed?

Edward Long : The Chief Judge of the courts is responsible for this decision.  I anticipate a decision will be made after I announce plans for the county government.

Fairfax : What role is the Citizen Corps BAC and their volunteers playing in the preparation, response, and cleanup of this storm? County and grant dollars are spent on hours and hours of training, but what role do the trained affiliated volunteers play during an actual disaster just as this? They were not used during the last major storm. Now is the time to use these volunteers.

David McKernan : Volunteers are very important to the response and recovery from any storm event.  Hundreds of volunteers assisted in Huntington and throughout the county with flooded residents after Tropical Storm Lee.  The key is to be organized.  Volunteer Fairfax organizes all the volunteer responses for Fairfax County.  They have a seat in our EOC and respond to the needs of our residents.  They organize spontaneous volunteers and direct volunteer organizations to requests from the Fairfax County EOC.  Please go to their website at 

Please do not self deploy.  Join Volunteer Fairfax so that you are part of the solution.

Nathan : Will the storm surge flood the Belleview area?

Sharon Bulova : We are monitoring this situation. Stay tuned to the County's blog for this information as the path and effects of the storm begins to materialize.

Anonymous User : Will there be trash pickup on Monday?

Edward Long : A decision on trash pickup will be made once I decide the operating status of county government.

Frederick : Will Commercial Construction Inspections be canceled for Monday, Oct. 29th?

Edward Long : A decision on Monday inspections will be made once I decide about the operation status of county government.

Eric Bonetti : Sharon, the nonprofit for which I work serves a high percentage of persons with disabilities. What resources are available in the event of a serious issue at one of our properties? Any suggestions on ways to best ensure the safety of our residents would be greatly appreciated.

Sharon Bulova : If it is an emergency situation, contact 9-1-1. Make sure adequate emergency and medical supplies are available for your clients. My staff and I will be monitoring our Chairman's email, , we will sure to forward requests for help.

Fred, Springfield : A few years ago, a hurricane knocked out power to Fairfax Water's pumping stations, cutting off water to residents for a while. What are the chances that a power outage during this storm will cut off water again? Was sufficient back-up power installed by Fairfax Water since then? Thank you.

David McKernan : Fairfax Water has updated their electrical feeds to their water plants.  Backups that were not there during Hurricane Isabel have been enhanced.  The likelihood of losing water is remote however we must stay prepared.  Electrical power is not the only way to knock out our water supply.  For those on wells, please prepare to be without power.  We all need to have enough water to supply our family for at least 72 hours.

Mohammed Bouzana : Is it right that there will be a curfew at 7 pm because of sandy?

Edward Long : No official curfew is in place.  The National Weather Service indicates we will experience a storm with extremely high winds. Extreme caution is urged !!

Anonymous User : is there an emergency shelter in place for residents of the huntington neighborhood? where? how to get there? red cross from huntington metro--2006.

Dave Rohrer : We have identified shelter locations and are prepared to open any if needed. We’re monitoring the storm, and will be monitoring the impact, and we will announce openings of any shelters and locations as needed. If you feel more comfortable making alternative arrangements with friends or family, please do so. Also please sign up for River Watch on our alert network at for immediate updates.

Judi : I am disabled and use a wheel chair. Where do I register to make sure police and EMT have that information?

David McKernan : Please register at

The information is secure and does not leave the EOC.  It helps us help you in an emergency. 

Lester Shapiro : Is Oak Marr Rec Center open Monday and Tuesday?

Edward Long : Park Authority programs, events, and classes are cancelled. However, RECenters and other Park Authority facilities will maintain normal business hours. This information will be updated regularly and may change as weather conditions dictate.

John Perfili : Thank you kindly for setting up this forum. If you do not get to my question I understand. In regards to storm runoff prep's, I have a situation on 4th Street and Cherokee Avenue that never bodes well during any amount of rain. The street drains have become ineffective due to long standing debris so the water runs down the street and has recently washed away the VDOT manufactured fortification that was built last year. I can remedy this by digging trenches in the short term in order to channel water away from structures or from building up at the end of the 4th Street dead end so there is no need to send out already limted resources or help. However, if sandbags and trenching doesn't get the job done, who should I call? VDOT emergency response? Also, where do I get sandbags for our street? I will assess the amount required for my neighbors today. I figure that I can help out Fairfax County by taking responsibility for my block rather than relying on Fairfax emergency resources which are better applied to real emergencies. I might add that Claire from the Mason District's Supervisor Office has gone beyond the call of duty in reaching out to our residents. She is very accessable and our neighborhood enjoys talking to her because we know we will get results. Without her, the situation would be alot worse than it is. The same goes for Tommy from Area Five, VDOT. We are fortunate to have these two pro's watching out for us.

Sharon Bulova : If case of rising water, don't take chances, call 9-1-1. Also, in case of debris clogging up storm drains, neighbors can try to open up the blockage with a broom or rake handle. Thanks for your comments about Supervisor Gross, she and her staff do a great job!

Sharon Bulova : We just heard that VRE will not be running tomorrow.

Katharine : What information is available on and other local and state websites that might be used to assess the safety of my immediate area?

Edward Long :

We have many online resources available for you to consult.

1.) Our emergency blog at will provide updates throughout the storm.

2.) Sign up for our Community Emergency Alert Network text/email updates at that will provide weather alerts and other critical information.

3.) If you use social media sites, then follow us on Facebook or Twitter -- or

4.) Keep up to date with local conditions – follow TV and radio reports from your area, or visit ( on your phone) for the latest forecast.

5.) Download our county mobile apps with emergency information:

Anonymous User : Is there any chance we will have to evacuate?

Dave Rohrer : This is a very general question, so the general answer is no, unless you live in a neighborhood or area prone to flooding. If you are in the latter, please closely monitor the situation and any rising water, and stay informed through the many ways the County is communicating with our community. Public safety agencies and our Office of Emergency Management will be closely monitoring flooding conditions and working to ensure the safety of our community.         

Anonymous User : If your home loses power, how, exactly, are we supposed to know whether or not school is canceled?

Sharon Bulova : Fairfax County Schools are closed Monday and Tuesday. Make sure that if power goes out, you can receive information on your mobile devices and your battery operated radio. This would be a good time to locate your mobile device charger and make sure all devices are charged. I have a wind up radio that has been a life saver for me when power goes out for an extended period of time.

Hos : Is Quander Rd-Fort Hunt considered as a low altitude or high altitude region? You sent out an alert for Huntington area, is that part of the Huntington area?

David McKernan : No.  It is close but does not face the same concerns as Huntington.  No matter where you live please follow this advice.  Do not drive through high water.  "Turn around and don't drown"  Please be prepared for all types of circumstances including high water, power outages, down trees and blocked roads.  This storm is very dangerous and we ask our residents to be prepared.

Storm : Can i use the rain water to drink if i run out of bottle water?

Sharon Bulova : Rain water directly from the sky should be clean and drinkable. My mother always told me in case of an emergency to fill the sink and tubs up with water so that we would have clean, fresh water available. I'm filling mine up this evening.

Phyllis S : Sup. Bulova stated the Federal Government offices would be closed. Have not seen that elsewhere. Is that correct as of this time?

Sharon Bulova : The decision to close Federal Government offices was made earlier this evening on a regional conference call. The news is beginning to be shared on the radio.

Anonymous User : How is the county working with Dominion Power to ensure that residents are restored power in a timely manner? How will residents be informed of daily plans for DomPow servicing?

Dave Rohrer : The County and the Office of Emergency Management have been working closely with Dominion Power in pre-planning and will continue to do throughout this event. As to any specific plans or announcements from Dominion Power it would be best to monitor their information.    

Dawn Childs : What are the appropriate steps to take if a tree hits your home?

David McKernan : The first step is to get out of your house.  Hopefully you have a meeting place where your family gathers to ensure everyone got out.  Use your cell phone or go to a neighbor and call 911.  Stay away from the home until public safety employees can access the home for structural stability and ensure utilities are controlled.  Your next call should be to your insurance company.

Rosa Flores : Dear Ms.Bulova, I live in Fairfax City, also my zip code is 22032, and I live in a ground level apartment and in case my home floods where are the emergency shelters going to be? Also I have two puppies and one ten year old child. Thank you for taking your time and answering everyones questions. And be safe. Sincerely, Mrs.Flores

Sharon Bulova : Mrs. Flores- Plans are being made to shelter persons in case of flooding. The County and the City of Fairfax will be announcing those locations as the effects of the storm unfold. There will be pet friendly locations available when and if needed.

Anonymous User : does the federal government seek any input from the County on decisions to close or not...especially given that VRE floods a lot of time and timely decisions are critical.

Edward Long : Regional officials have had numerous conference calls to share information and to ensure that decisions are based on the most current information. The federal office of Personnel Management was on the most recent conference call and made the decision to close based on the most recent information from the National Weather Service.  Northern Virginia regional officials will conference shortly to discuss operation status options for Monday and Tuesday.

Falls Churhc area Resident : The federal government just announced they are closed for tomorrow. Will fairfax be closed, too.

Sharon Bulova : There will a 7:00pm regional conference call this evening, and a decision will be made shortly thereafter.

Alexandria : I would appreciate a rapid decision about trash collection. Many cans are already on the streets and will cause problems during the high winds.

Sharon Bulova : Most trash pickup in Fairfax County is done by private companies. The Fairfax County land fill and incinerator will be open tomorrow to receive trash.

Ellen : You are telling everyone to stay home, but many companies follow your open/closed lead for their business model.

Sharon Bulova : Answer is coming soon. There is a regional conference call at 7pm, and we will be making an announcement soon after.

FTTVienna : I had a neighbor ask where is the nearest emergency shelter in our area(Tysons) At Old Courthouse Road 22182 Would it be Westbriar Elementary School

Sharon Bulova : The County is planning for best locations for emergency shelters. In some cases, we will use rec centers and possibly schools. Please be sure to stay tuned to the County's Blog.

MondayStorm : Where should people go on Tuesday or Wednesday to to instructions to help with cleanup? Do you know where dry ice will be available and when? Does Fairfax County have sand bag distribution?

Dave Rohrer : The storm is expected to still be strong on Tuesday, so the recovery and cleanup will probably start no earlier than Wednesday. The County will continue to push out information through its multiple means, please stay informed as to instructions and advice for recovery and cleanup. Dry ice will not be distributed through the County, but you can check with local stores or other commercial locations. Similarly, Fairfax County is not distributing sand bags, people can check their local hardware stores. But because many have been preparing for the storm for several days I would expect that most stores no longer have any in stock.    

John : Will the Fairfax Connector be operating Monday and Tuesday? Thanks, John

Edward Long : A discussion is currently underway and a decision is anticipate shortly after 7:00 pm.

Anonymous User : Will stores restock batteries ? We have tons of candles but small kids that want flash lights and D size are sold out everywhere

Sharon Bulova : Be careful about using candles. If you do use candles, never leave the candles unattended in a room. We do not know if stores will be restocking batteries.

Sam : I noticed you mentioned that in case things get worse, you will be informing us about shelters via blogs and websites. Shouldn't we be informed NOW where those shelters might be since power outages are anticipated? How are we supposed to access this info on blogs and websites without power?

David McKernan : We will be communicating with the media.  Have available a battery powered radio to stay informed if power goes down.  We will provide direction to you through the regular media, social media, email, and texting.  If you have not signed up for Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) please go to the county website to do so.

Dana Ritter : My husband is a quadriplegic. I want to make sure we can get priority for getting power and water back if we lose it. How do I do that?

David McKernan : Please register your husband with the Special Needs Registry.

Reston Resident : In the event internet and/or cell phone service is lost - is there a phone number to call from a landline to get updates regarding the storm?

Dave Rohrer : Yes, you may call the just announced Fairfax County Emergency Information Hotline at 571-350-1300 for any non-emergency storm related questions.   

Sharon Bulova : Thank you for joining us. We received hundreds of questions and could not get to all of them. Please be sure to stay up-to-date on storm related emergency advice on the County's blog and Facebook page. This may be a significant flooding event with heavy winds. Try to stay home and be safe!