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Virginians urged to stay home due to hazardous road conditions
RICHMOND, Va. – During the latest winter storm to affect the Commonwealth, the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state agencies continue to assist Virginians by processing requests from local governments and matching them with the appropriate state agencies and utilities for response.
“This major winter storm has brought six to 18 inches of wet snow across Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Transportation and many other agencies and private sector partners are doing great work to continue to respond and make sure people are safe” said Governor McAuliffe. “We expect this storm to continue to bring a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain throughout the evening, and ask we Virginians to keep themselves safe and assist our storm responders by refraining from any unnecessary travel. Many of our roads remain difficult to pass as snow and ice continue to fall, and refraining from traveling helps speed up road clearing operations.”
While most roads are open, more than 950 are in moderate to severe condition, which means they are mostly or partially covered with snow and/or ice. People should call 511 or go towww.511Virginia.org before traveling.
Throughout the state, there are 1,400 customers without power. Most power outages are due to fallen tree limbs.
Here’s a list of current state agency storm response efforts and how they are assisting Virginians:
· Virginia Department of Transportation crews are conducting road clearing operations, and their goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends so that people can travel safely. For example, a VDOT crew member and plow responded to the scene of a Spotsylvania County ambulance stuck in a ditch on Salem Station Boulevard in Spotsylvania County. The ambulance was on its way to an emergency. The VDOT plow cleared a path for the ambulance to drive on, while county fire and rescue personnel were able to tow the ambulance from the ditch. VDOT has deployed more than 12,300 pieces of equipment including trucks and plows.
· More than 200 Virginia National Guard personnel are staged strategically across Virginia to support state and local emergency response. An additional 50 soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are on duty to provide mission command, administrative and sustainment support for units in the field. Virginia Guard is staged at readiness centers along the Interstate 81 corridor, in the central Virginia area along Route 29 and Interstates 64 and 95, and areas of Northern Virginia to be ready to support possible response missions.
· The Virginia State Police continue to respond to traffic crashes and disabled vehicles resulting from the storm and hazardous road conditions. All available troopers have worked extended shifts throughout the night and to help people by responding, investigating and clearing crashes. VSP has responded to at least 1,000 traffic crashes and more than 900 disabled vehicles across the Commonwealth since 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. The majority of crashes involved damage to vehicles and no injuries to people.
There are a number of potentially life-saving actions that people can take, including:
· Charge your mobile devices so you can continue to hear information from official sources if the power goes out.
· Have emergency supplies in your vehicle. If you are stranded you will need water, food, blankets, a flashlight and extra batteries at a minimum.
· Have a battery powered and/or hand-crank radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
· Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow and cleaning up from the storm, no matter your age or physical condition. Shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
· If you need help for an elderly or disabled person during the storm, need information on warming shelters, or are concerned about an unsheltered individual or family, call 211 or visitwww.211virginia.org. When you call 211, a trained professional will suggest sources of help using one of the largest databases of health and human services in your community and statewide.
· Get winter weather preparedness information at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and download the new Ready Virginia app for iPhones and Android devices.