The Shenandoah Valley weathered Hurricane Irene just fine with blustery winds and rain bands on Saturday. Today the sun is out, there's a refreshing breeze, and the thermometer stands at 74 degrees.
I've got to say thank you to the Richmond Times-Dispatch because right on schedule, at 5:55 this morning, the carrier popped it in our paper box even though a disclaimer on their front page suggested the hurricane could affect their delivery times. Nope ... no problem here. We're grateful for the information.
The front page is chocked full of hurricane coverage headlined with, "IRENE SLAMS VA." with stories about the storm's affect throughout the hardest-hit areas including Richmond, Tri-Cities, and the Tidewater/beach area.
One million Virginians are without power this morning as Dominion Power and smaller electrical companies gear up for the time-consuming task of tree removal and repairing dangling power lines. Those who broke out generators may need to use them for days as they wait for crews to reach their areas.
After hammering North Carolina's Outer Banks, Irene moved into Virginia where the beach area caught the brunt of her damaging winds and rain. For updated information check the Times-Dispatch online and Pilot Online out of Norfolk.
I had an early-morning message from a Virginia Beach friend who was returning from a trip to points west of here and passed through SWAC Land on his way to the coast. Here's hoping what he finds when he returns home isn't too bad....
I kept coverage going Saturday with updates as they became available. Today we begin clean-up.
Folks to our north are now dealing with Irene who was downgraded when she hit land in New York City. Now a tropical storm, she continues to pummel beach areas with high winds and waves but NYC may not have the devastating damage that was feared from a storm of that strength hitting an area with such a dense population. That has to be a relief to not only emergency officials but also to citizens who may have seen the extensive damage left behind in North Carolina and Virginia.
Sadly, there have been fatalities -- 10 at last count -- but it could have been so much worse without the prior notice and proper preparation that was possible with advanced weather forecasting.
A tragedy can make or break people. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell showed exemplary leadership skills in preparing for Irene, holding press conferences to brief media, General Assembly members, and others of plans in place, and working with emergency management leaders in the Commonwealth and beyond. Part discipline, part military training, part natural ... he showed true leadership during this natural disaster.
With the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude of East Coasters, cleanup is already underway and neighbors will help neighbors. With the peak of hurricane season upon us, Virginians will remain vigilant.