City preps for landfall

Published 10:07 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a mandatory evacuation at a Monday press conference for Hampton Roads residents in Zone A. The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Suffolk will open two emergency shelters as a last resort for citizens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to press release.

King’s Fork High School, 351 Kings Fork Road, and Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Pkwy., will serve as emergency shelters. King’s Fork will be fully powered by a generator for citizens who are medically dependent on electricity. Nansemond River will only have generator power for emergency lighting and to support the kitchen freezers. Nansemond River will also be pet-friendly.

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These shelters should be considered a last resort after all other options have been exhausted, according to the press release. If residents must evacuate, the city recommends traveling north.

While the shelters are not limited to Suffolk residents, the city hopes citizens in other jurisdictions will seek emergency within their own localities, according to spokeswoman Diana Klink.

Last year, Virginia Department of Emergency Management established the Know Your Zone program and website, with four-tiered evacuation zones – A through D – that clarify whether or not certain residents should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home. This is based on each resident’s physical street address and the nature of the emergency.

“Depending on the emergency and where you reside, being safe might mean staying at home, a short trip to higher ground, or traveling to a different region of the state,” according to a May press release from Klink.

Visit and type in your address to find out your designated zone, then stay tuned to local media for instructions from a local emergency manager on where to go – with available shelters and evacuation routes – and when you will be able to return home.

The National Hurricane Center reported on Friday that Florence has rapidly intensified into “an extremely dangerous hurricane,” but has not yet peaked in its intensity. Hurricane Florence is expected to intensify close to category five strength on Tuesday, supported by a continuation of a low-shear environment and warmer waters over the next 36 hours.

Hurricane Florence was about 525 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and about 1,170 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, N.C., with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, as of 5 p.m. Monday. It was moving west-northwest at nearly 13 mph.

It is projected to increase in forward speed in the next few days, the National Hurricane Center reported, and a turn toward the northwest was forecast to occur late Wednesday evening. The center of the hurricane was expected to approach the coast of South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday.

Florence is reported as a category four hurricane that will strengthen to be “an extremely dangerous major hurricane” through Thursday. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 40 miles from hurricane’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 150 miles.

“While the intensity forecast shows some weakening of the maximum winds near landfall, the wind field is expected to grow with time, which increases the storm surge and inland wind threats,” the National Hurricane Center reported. “The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hampton Roads is projected to face six-to-10 inches of rainfall and wind speeds of 60-to-70 mph during the storm.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Rusnak said they expect the storm to ramp up in Suffolk Thursday evening – with the hurricane making landfall on the coast that day – and into Friday morning.

Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency on Saturday in anticipation of the impacts of Hurricane Florence.

The Suffolk Department of Emergency Management reminded residents in a Monday press release to take the appropriate steps for emergency preparedness as soon as possible. Storm track models show that Virginia is expected to suffer impacts such as coastal storm surges, inland flooding, high winds and widespread power outages.

City Manager Patrick Roberts met with department heads and public safety officials Monday afternoon related to local emergency measures meant to ensure the safety of citizens, according to the press release.

According to a Monday press release from Virginia Department of Transportation, VDOT staff and crews are readying trucks and equipment, inspecting and cleaning drainage facilities where necessary and lifting lane closures where possible to keep roads clear for emergency responders and possible evacuations.

Staff and crews are also planning for staff augmentation of safety service patrols and traffic operations centers for additional traffic monitoring, emergency response capabilities and assisting motorists in distress along major routes. They are also notifying additional debris removal crews to be on standby once the storm begins.

According to the press release, VDOT is working closely with local and state partners at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia State Police to plan and coordinate emergency responses ahead of the storm, as well as utility companies statewide in advance of potential downed power lines.

“VDOT is in full preparation mode and we encourage the public to do the same. Prepare now for difficult or limited travel later this week,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich stated in the press release. “VDOT is making every effort to keep the roads open and safe for travel ahead of the storm. Pay close attention to local forecasts and announcements from emergency officials to best plan travel and stay safe on the roads.”

Dominion Energy is preparing for significant impacts, according to a Monday press release, including high winds and flooding across its service area in North Carolina and Virginia. The company is urging customers in both states to prepare immediately for a multi-day storm that could bring dangerous conditions and widespread outages.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined other Virginia delegates on Monday to call on President Donald Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration for Hurricane Florence. The declaration would ensure “the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence,” the Virginia senators and representatives wrote in the Monday press release.

The city of Suffolk has a free emergency and non-emergency notification system. This system will send email updates regarding important information. More information can be accessed via

City updates can also be found on their Facebook page or on Twitter @CityofSuffolk.

Visit for more information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and VDEM that will help you “Make a Kit, Get and Plan, and Stay Informed,” according to a Monday press release from Delegate Emily Brewer.

“The window of time to make sure you are prepared is getting smaller,” Brewer stated in the press release. “Now is the time to make plans and ensure you and your family have taken necessary precautions.”