State recovers: President declares emergency

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

City trucks close off the 100 block of East Constance Road on Sunday because of high water. The location is a usual suspect for flooding, along with another nearby location, the 700 block of North Main Street. (R.E. Spears III)

Wind gusts at Suffolk Executive Airport reached 39 miles per hour at 10 a.m. Monday, surging intermittently throughout the day to reach 36 mph just before 9 p.m., about an hour after Sandy made landfall in New Jersey.

The average total storm rainfall from 14 points across the city was 4.69 inches. The heaviest falls were in North Suffolk, with 5.58 inches near the corner of Crittenden and Bridge roads, and the least amount measured was 3.6 inches at the airport.

More than 2,800 power outages in the Crittenden, Driver and Sleepy Hole areas Monday night were mostly restored within the hour, according to Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Bonita Harris. The outage occurred when a tree limb fell across a main distribution line.

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City spokesman Tim Kelley indicated that the storm was a non-event for local first responders.

“The police and fire calls were below what a normal day — forget the hurricane — (is),” Kelley said, adding that a tree limb on a house was the only reported damage.

Harbor Side Marina and Restaurant co-owner Cullen Wallace hopes that the restaurant, potentially Suffolk’s biggest Sandy casualty, can reopen in about a month after severe flooding.

In what he said was his final Sandy press conference, Gov. Bob McDonnell early Tuesday afternoon praised government authorities of all levels and political stripes, declaring Virginia was “spared a significant event.”

The storm was responsible for two deaths from traffic accidents in central Virginia, according to a news release from McDonnell’s office.

“We are beginning the recovery process pretty well now in our state,” he said.

Snowy conditions in mountainous parts of the state remain a concern, the governor said, with up to one foot of snow already recorded in some areas.

McDonnell also reported some coastal flooding, particularly on the Eastern Shore. Severe inundations on Chincoteague Island necessitated rescue operations.

“We are still concerned about river cresting,” the governor added. “We are certainly concerned with gale winds right now on the Eastern Shore that are making maritime traffic very dangerous.”

The state will receive direct federal assistance after a disaster declaration Monday, he said.

End-of-month deadlines for driver’s license renewals, car inspections and other state matters have been extended to Nov. 9, McDonnell said.

According to a “preliminary assessment” of registrar’s offices and precincts, the storm will not disrupt voting Nov. 6, though nine polling places remained without power Tuesday morning, McDonnell said. “All those will be back on within a day or two,” he said.

Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said it is unlikely that the river flooding still expected will be severe.

Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gregory Whirley reported about 100 traffic signals still out in Northern Virginia and more than 1,000 department crews and contractors working across the state to clear roads.

Dominion Virginia Power has restored more than 200,000 customers while outages remain for 96,000 customers, a company spokesman reported.

The Jamestown Ferry and all Hampton Roads bridges and tunnels were operating normally Tuesday morning, while across the state, 17 shelters still open contained 529 people, McDonnell said.

State police responded to about 2,500 traffic incidents, and 630 members of the Virginia National Guard were called into service, according to McDonnell.