Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kaine turns natural disasters into fund raising opportunity

Tim Kaine seems to have taken a page out of Rahm Emanuel's play book: "You don't ever want a crisis to go to waste...."

Indeed, in the wake of Virginians experiencing a week that saw many affected by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake followed by the weekend devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, Democrat U.S Senate candidate Tim Kaine sent out a fund raising letter. Twisting remarks made by Leader Eric Cantor concerning help for victims of the natural disasters, Kaine used the opportunity to slam Cantor and ask for money.

While a half million Virginians still sit without electricity including my 80-something parents, and others are digging out from devastating flooding, tornado damage, loss of homes, and thousands of downed trees, Kaine -- who wants to represent those very citizens -- thinks it's the right time to ask them for money. While civic organizations, churches, and the Red Cross are handing out bottled water and ice to those still in need, Kaine wants a donation for himself.

Meanwhile, Republicans led by Governor Bob McDonnell have urged those who are able to do so to help out their fellow citizens.

Bearing Drift colleague Norm Leahy probably best points out the hypocrisy of Kaine's fund raising request:
The ask is soft, but the large, red “CONTRIBUTE” button at the bottom of the form shows that Kaine is far less interested in sending Eric Cantor a message than he is in using Hurricane Irene’s aftermath as a fundraising hook.

That borders upon the despicable.
Virginia needs a leader who cares about the the welfare of the citizens.

Bob McDonnell-Rick Perry headline RPV event

You are cordially invited to lunch with

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Chairman, Republican Governors Association
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Candidate for U.S. President


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

at the

Richmond Convention Center Grand Ballroom

Doors open at 12:15pm
Pre-Event Meet and Greet for Sponsors starts at 12:15pm
Lunch starts at 12:30pm

Richmond Convention Center
Grand Ballroom
400 North Third Street
Richmond, Virginia

Texas Governor Rick Perry will be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Virginia's Grassroots Luncheon on Sept. 14, RPV Chairman Pat Mullins announced today.

"We're absolutely thrilled that Governor Perry will be with us for this event," Mullins said. "Governor Perry's record in Texas of lower taxes, limited government, and job growth looks familiar to anyone who pays attention to Virginia politics. Like our own Governor Bob McDonnell, Gov. Perry has balanced his state's budget by making prudent decisions, rather than treating taxpayers like an ATM."

Both Govs. Perry and McDonnell will speak at the event, scheduled for Sept. 14 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

"Virginia will be a key battleground state in 2012," Mullins said. "This event is a great opportunity for the grassroots - the people who make the Republican Party of Virginia work - to get to know one of frontrunners for our party's presidential nomination."

For more information, visit

--From Republican Party of Virginia

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

George Allen receives more endorsements

The endorsements continue to roll in for former Governor George Allen who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Senator Stephen Martin, Chesterfield
“I am a proud supporter of George Allen’s campaign for U.S. Senate.  George understands the issues important to Virginians and will fight for them as our Senator. He stood for common sense conservatism in the Governor’s office proven by a track record of great success. His pro-growth, pro-business reforms helped to make Virginia one of the most competitive States for business with 300,000 net new private sector jobs added during his tenure. He also reformed welfare, provided education accountability, ended Virginia's revolving door justice system and fought for a true parental notification bill.  These are the kind of issues Virginians care about.  He knows Virginia and will fight effectively for us.  That is why we need George Allen to be elected as our Senator.”

Senator Ryan McDougle, Mechanicsville“George Allen is the strong conservative voice we need in the U.S. Senate.  As Governor, George Allen fostered an environment of economic growth that created 300,000 net new jobs.  In these tough economic times, Virginians are looking for real leadership to reinvigorate our economy and get people back to work.  I support George Allen for U.S. Senate because he will stand up for common sense, conservative solutions and fight for Virginia.”

Senator Walter Stosch, Glen Allen“We need a Senator who will fight for Virginia.  George Allen will be that Senator.  Under Governor Allen, we worked together to eliminate state income taxes on social security benefits for our seniors and established the first system of Public Private Partnerships in the nation.  He has worked tirelessly throughout his career to preserve and create jobs, empower small business and rein in government spending.  These are among the many reasons I endorse George Allen for U.S. Senate.”

Senator John Watkins, Midlothian “George Allen has the kind of leadership that Congress needs.  He led Virginia through tough times and he can lead the country through tough times.”

Delegate John Cox, Ashland “As a business owner and part-time legislator, I understand what Virginia needs most are jobs for its citizens and George Allen is keenly aware of that as well.  I know I can count on his experience and leadership skills to help create good paying jobs for Virginians.  With his common sense conservative approach he will fight to keep Washington DC off the backs of small business owners and give them the freedom to prosper and grow our economy.  Join me in supporting George Allen for U.S.”

Delegate Kirk Cox, Colonial Heights “I have worked with George Allen for more than 20 years starting when we were Delegates together in 1990, later when he was the Commonwealth's Governor and when he was our Senator.  George Allen is a man of integrity, good ideas, and a leader with a vision who knows the best way forward is based on our nation's founding principles.  We need him in Washington to be a force for moving our country out of the present morass to the nation we should be with confidence in ourselves as we build a solid future for our children.”

Delegate Riley Ingram, Hopewell“George Allen has achieved significant accomplishments for the people of Virginia and I am proud to support him for the U.S. Senate.  He is a strong leader who is ready to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington and put America back on the path to prosperity.  Virginians have sent a clear message to Washington that they will no longer stand for business as usual in Washington.  George Allen has a long record of making real reforms and changing the way government operates.   We need his common sense conservative leadership in Washington.”

Delegate Manoli Loupassi, Richmond“George Allen is the strong conservative leader we need in the U.S. Senate and I am proud to support his campaign.  He has a record of success in Virginia making pro-growth reforms that helped foster the environment that created hundreds of thousands of jobs.  We need George Allen’s bold leadership in Washington to unleash our energy resources and get our economy back on track.”

Delegate Jimmie Massie, Richmond“George Allen has a long and proven track record of standing strong for Virginians.  I am proud to endorse him and his campaign for U.S. Senate.  As Governor, he made major pro-growth reforms that helped open the doors for hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Virginia.  With national unemployment stuck at 9% and chaos in Washington, we desperately need a common sense conservative leader like George Allen to promote pro-growth and job creating public policies.”

Delegate John O’Bannaon, Richmond
“George Allen will fight for the conservative values important to Virginians.  He has the pro-growth plan of action that we need to help reinvigorate our economy.  This election will be crucial to determining the direction of our nation for years to come, and we need strong leaders like George Allen representing our voices in Washington.  I’m proud to stand with George Allen and help him become Virginia’s next U.S. Senator.”
Delegate Chris Peace, Mechanicsville"George Allen is the conservative we need serving in the U.S. Senate. He is resolute in his belief that a smaller government leads to greater freedom and prosperity. In this time of economic uncertainty and global conflict, Virginia needs this kind of steady and capable leader. George Allen is the right man for this important job."

Delegate Roxann Robinson, Richmond“I am pleased to announce my support of Governor George Allen in his campaign to win the 2012 Senatorial Republican Primary.  Governor Allen is committed to getting America back on the right track.  His past experience with Washington politics will allow him to hit the ground running with good old common sense. He is committed to cut government spending and is dedicated to creating jobs in America for Americans.”

Delegate Edward Scott, Culpeper
“I believe that George Allen is exactly the person we need in Washington to put an end to the unbridled growth of government and reckless spending.  George Allen knows how to work across party lines to get things done, and his time as Governor was marked by successful government reforms that made Virginia a model for the nation.  I know George Allen will never back down from defending Virginia’s values, and I am glad to give him my wholehearted support.”

Dismal Swamp fire 99% out thanks to Irene

Ten to fifteen inches of rain from Hurricane Irene seemed to accomplish what hundreds of firefighters had struggled to do ... almost douse the Great Dismal Swamp fire that had burned for weeks along the border of Virginia and North Carolina. Although there are still hot spots in the five-foot-deep peat soil, reports are that 99% of the fire is out.

John Bearer, a spokesman for the team handling the fire, commented to Pilot Online:
During the last big fire there in 2008, it took four months to get to the level of progress that's been made on this fire in less than a month, Bearer said. This fire was sparked by lightning and first spotted Aug. 4.
That has to be great news for those affected by the smoke from the 6,000-acre fire that had fouled air quality and penetrated the region including Richmond and the Norfolk-Virginia Beach areas. Before the hurricane, the fire was considered 35% contained.

As Irene approached, Tim Craig, management officer of the Fish and Wildlife Service, cautioned, "Eight inches of rain will not put the fire out, but it will buy us time to clear the way through the downed trees back to the fire zone after the storm."

Even though the swamp that began to burn in early August continues to smolder in some areas, the rain definitely helped, according to the Dismal Swamp Refuge Manager Chris Lowie:
"It's gonna be a real skeleton crew because we don`t need the 470 people and 120 tractors anymore. So the hurricane did help us out a lot," says Lowie.

Thanks to Irene, it will take a lot less work to get the fire out once and for all.
A news outlet asked if any good had come from Irene. The short answer is "yes."

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Was Hurricane Irene over-hyped?

No sooner does a disaster pass than the finger pointing begins, and the aftermath of Hurricane Irene has been no different.

The blame game has begun by those suggesting that the media over-hyped the storm because New York City and other areas that had seen extensive preparation were not destroyed, as feared by forecasters and those tracking the storm.

We should all count our blessings that Irene didn't do more damage because, unfortunately, there was plenty of impact and tragedy for many. So why the "over-hype" accusations?

At last count, 40 people in eleven states had lost their lives including four in Virginia. Flooded homes have caught fire. Hundreds (thousands?) of homes were badly damaged. Up to half a dozen beloved covered bridges in Vermont were washed away by flood waters. Tornadoes caused major damage and destroyed at least one home in Sandbridge.

In the Richmond area, rain and wind caused thousands of trees to be blown down on houses and cars. Falling trees were responsible for deaths in North Carolina and Virginia. By Saturday evening 75% of residents in Richmond were without electricity but by Monday that figure had dropped to 60%. That's still a lot of folks without air conditioning and refrigeration but Dominion said 90-95% should be back online by Friday. At the hard-hit coastal area, many were also without power and had endured damaging flooding conditions.

Churches, civic groups, fire departments, the Red Cross, and others in Virginia are distributing free ice and bottled water to help residents make it through the next few days. Neighbors helping neighbors ... that's how it's done along the Eastern Seaboard.

Connecticut reported the highest number of people without electricity in the state's history. They estimate $282 million in damages.

Flooding has destroyed countless homes and buildings from North Carolina to Vermont. Storm surges crushed parts of the coast. Vermont continues to deal with devastating flash floods as rain from Irene helped rivers overflow their banks.

Governors up and down the East Coast braced and prepared for the storm. Skirting the Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts, Irene slammed into North Carolina causing devastation along Hatteras, flooding NC 12 and breaking through the roadway in several places near Rodanthe causing deep gouges that will require extensive repairs.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell stayed on top of the situation from the beginning, sending National Guard members and Sate Police to hardest-hit areas. In the aftermath, he has urged those who wish to help their neighbors to contribute to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund.

New Jersey estimates $2.1 billion in damages from the storm while New York is estimating $2 billion in damages. North Carolina could see up to $400 million in damages. Total damages could grow to billions of dollars in the eleven affected states.

Instead of blaming weather forecasters and the media for "over-hyping," we should consider ourselves lucky it wasn't worse because, for those affected, it was bad enough and in some cases life-altering. Stop the finger pointing and blame game. There's work to be done ... someone out there could use a helping hand.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Monday, August 29, 2011

Body of missing Augusta County man found on Blue Ridge Parkway

It's a sad ending to the search for Harvey Mars of Fishersville, the 70-year-old man who disappeared last Wednesday.

Sunday a passerby saw his vehicle over the side of the mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Humpback Rock and his body was found inside. He had left home without needed medication but it was unclear how he died. Prayers go to his family....

Update 8/30/11: Authorities believe Mr. Mars may have died the day he disappeared ... more details about the wreck that took his life.

Bob Ladd sells local landmark Shenandoah Harley-Davidson to new owners

If you're looking to stop by the Shenandoah Harley-Davidson in Staunton for the next few days, you're out of luck.

Bob Ladd, who has owned the dealership for the past 13 years and was written up in a cover story titled "Shepherd of the Hills" in the H-D magazine, has sold. Not to worry, however ... it will reopen under new ownership on September 1st.

Ladd, announcing the change on Facebook, said that although there were few jobs that compared to being a Harley dealer, it was time to step aside, de-stress a bit, and enjoy life by owning some horses and free-range chickens. He's not being put out to pasture ... he's just changing the scenery and adding some time to enjoy his family including six grandchildren.

The location of many events that helped the local community, Ladd's dealership has become a landmark for those traveling I-81. Just take Exit 220 onto the bypass and then take the first exit, then turn at the first left and the next first left, and follow the long winding Rolling Thunder Lane to the top of the hill for a spectacular, breath-taking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, parts of Staunton, and I-81. Anyone stopping by was invited to linger a while on the front porch or step inside for a bite to eat. The showroom was amazing ... all those motorcycles ... all that chrome ... all those accessories.

Not long after locating there, Bob, who doesn't affiliate with any particular political party, hosted then-Delegate Chris Saxman for a barbecue fundraiser that brought out hundreds of people including George Allen riding in on a horse. What an evening that was!

A strong supporter of military veterans, Bob hosted rides ... SH-D's own "rolling thunder" ... to Washington, DC, and noted a special recognition:
"I have to give a big thanks to Robby Quick, those buses and drivers that took the WW II Veterans to their Memorial in DC will always mean a great deal to me and everyone who ventured with us that day...again something special few folks get to experience."
Known as Biker Bob, it's probably a given that Ladd will remain front and foremost in whatever endeavors he pursues.

As for me ... I just want to say thanks for his help over the years not only with fundraisers but for everything he did for the central Shenandoah Valley area. Climbing those steps at the dealership to his upstairs office that was chocked full of memorabilia, he was not one to be pushed around but was more than willing when I asked for his help in getting the word out about a Support the Troops rally in downtown Staunton. I think he would have done just about anything for the troops and military veterans. He probably bleeds red, white, and blue.

Good luck, Bob Ladd, and best wishes for success as you continue your life's journey....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene: The day after

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.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Virginia closings and other information

Emergency information hotline:

Update Sunday: Hurricane Irene: The day after

Update 10:00 pm: Governor McDonnell will be on Meet the Press (NBC), Good Morning America (ABC), and Squawk Box (CNBC) Sunday morning discussing Hurricane Irene.

Update 9:40 pm: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier remains guarded through Irene

Update 9:30 pm: From WTVR CBS-6 ... Chesterfield County has established new phone numbers for the public to call for information related to Hurricane Irene--call the Chesterfield County Emergency Operations Center at 804-751-0530 or 751-0628.

Update 9:24 pm: The Weather Channel is reporting that 75% of Richmond residences are without power.

Update 8:28 pm: Seven dead as Irene edges into Virginia

Update 8:20 pm: Coastal residents escape Irene and fill central Virginia hotels

Update: 7:45 pm: Virginia coast could fast historic storm surge

Update 7:05 pm: Harrisonburg's Valley Mall has reopened

Update 6:40 pm: From WHSV TV-3 in Harrisonburg ... Valley Mall closed due to power outage

Update 6:25 pm: Direct TV satellite is carrying WAVY-TV from Norfolk, Va, on Channel 259. It is carrying continuous storm coverage from the beach area.

Update 6:20 pm: DelMarVa updates on Hurricane Irene

Update 6:18 pm: Continuous updates from Richmond's NBC-12 as Irene is felt in central Virginia.

Update 6:15 pm: Irene is pounding the coastal areas of Virginia. Updates from

Update 6:00 pm: NORTHERN NECK news from a friend: "IRENE---NORTHERN NECK UPDATE---83 mph winds. Complete white out due to heavy rain and winds. First responders are back in quarters; too dangerous to be on roads or outside at all. Multiple road closings. Storm surge is beginning to build. Trees and power lines down everywhere, including inland. Flash flooding on the way."

Update 5:50 pm: From Gov. McDonnell: "For folks without power, please continue to stay inside and off roads. 5pm update - Irene near Elizabeth City, NC. Winds 80 mph. High impact next few hours in Central and Eastern Virginia."

Shenandoah Valley update 5:34 pm:  The winds have increased dramatically in the past thirty minutes and the sky looking east toward Richmond is black. I can smell the ocean. Temperature has dropped to 67 degrees with driving rain. More weather from NBC-29.

Update 5:30 pm: Gov. Bob McDonnell will be on MSNBC at 6:00 pm and on CNN at 6:15 pm to update about how Hurricane Irene is affecting Virginia.

Update 5:15 pm: Projected hurricane storm surge along coastal areas

Update 5:00 pm: From "A million people without power, multiple towns and cities taking on water in the lower mid-Atlantic at this hour and its heading north..."

Update 4:40 pm: WTVR CBS-6 reports 240,000 without power in Metro Richmond and the Tri-Cities

Update 4:05 pm: Dominion Electric maps of statewide power outages.

Update 3:50 pm: Conditions in the Richmond area are deteriorating as Irene approaches the coastal communities. Reports from Bon Air and Midlothian are that tere are multiple downed trees and spotty electrical outages. Traffic lights on Huguenot Road from Chippenham to Robious Road are out, and the Nickel Bridge over the James River (the Boulevard) is closed.

Update 3:30 pm: Video from Virginia Beach as the storm approaches

Update 3:20 pm: Confirmed power outages and downed trees in the Midlothian area of Richmond.

Update 3:15 pm: Washington Post ... In the Path of Irene

Update 3:14 pm: WTVR CBS-6 is reporting: "All lanes are closed on I-85 south at the I-95 interchange (mile marker 51) due to multiple downed trees. Drivers are encouraged to use Route 1 south--enter at Washington Street (exit 52) from I-95 south."

Update 2:52 pm: Reports that a tree falling on an apartment building in Virginia Beach area has killed an 11-year-old boy.

Update 2:50 pm: NORTHERN NECK Irene update from a high school classmate: "Power out. Trees down. One fatality so far when a tree fell on a moving car and killed the driver and injured passenger. Internet is out; using Verizon. Satellite comes and goes. Roof tiles ripping off at marina. 60++ winds right now." Also: "The Robert Morris Bridge (which crosses the Rappahannock River from Deltaville to White Stone) is now CLOSED per VDOT announcement @ 1500 hours."

Update 1:50 pm: Tornado destroys five houses at Sandbridge 

Update 1:30 pm: WXrisk is predicting Irene will track further west than expected by the National Weather Service.

Update 1:05 pm: This hurricane is HUGE....

Update 12:20 pm: Virginia receives federal emergency aid

Update 12:15 pm: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called into Fox News to update on the storm. The worst of the storm is still to come; 150,000 are without power so far and many more are expected to lose power before it's over in this dangerous storm. Stay inside.

All tunnels in Hampton Roads are closed. Evacuation has taken place in Southeastern Virginia where the brunt of the storm is expected to hit with extensive flooding, 6-12 inches of rain, and 3-6 foot storm surge. Windsor, VA, located 50 miles inland, has already received 3-6" of rain. Hurricane force winds will cause downed trees and limbs.

Eight years ago during Isabel, 75% of Virginia was without electrical power so that is expected to become a major issue as Irene passes through the area. One million Virginians live in southeastern Virginia-Hampton Roads-Virginia Beach area. The Governor noted that people have done a great job complying with evacuations and preparations for the storm. He urged extreme caution, watch for standing water an trees on roadways, to stay tuned to TV and radio for updates, and to be a good neighbor. National Guard and State Police are on duty and in place. Go to for information.

Update 11:45 am: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will call in live to FOX News at 12:00 noon and to WAVY (Hampton Roads) at 12:15 to provide further updates on Hurricane Irene.

Update 11:35 am: Conditions deteriorating as Virginia Beach area gets hammered by Hurricane Irene ... unconfirmed reports of tornadoes ... heavy downpours ... power outages ... high winds. Be safe....

Conditions in Shenandoah Valley at 11:30 am:  Very blustery with light to heavy rain as bands from Hurricane Irene pass through the area.

Charlotte Observer: One dead, many without power, New Bern hit hard by Irene

Shenandoah Valley weather forecast from NBC-29:
Hurricane Irene will affect the region through early Sunday as it tracks north along the mid Atlantic coast. For central Virginia, this will mean strong, gusty winds and moderate rain, while there will be less wind and rain in the valley. The storm will continue to move north northeast and away from the area Sunday afternoon. High pressure will be slow to build over the region early in the upcoming week.

Today: Mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms mainly during the pm hours and mainly east of the Blue Ridge, becoming breezy, highs 76-81. Tonight: Cloudy and breezy with scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 2am, low 68. Sunday: Partly cloudy, breezy, highs 81-85. Monday: Mostly sunny and quite pleasant, highs 78-82.

Thursday: Virginia's Gov. McDonnell declared State of Emergency for Irene

Emergency hurricane information from Rep. Randy Forbes

Closings and cancellations in the Virginia Beach area

Kings Dominion Amusement Park closed

Busch Gardens & Water Country USA closed

Closings in Northern Virginia

Update Saturday am:
Center of Irene goes over Outer Banks ... live updates

A young man has lost his life in the rough pre-storm waters off Virginia Beach

Outer Banks conditions:
The latest storm track for the Outer Banks

Shenandoah National Park:
Check on weather conditions in SNP

Shenandoah Valley weather:
Check WHSV TV-3 out of Harrisonburg and NBC-29 out of Charlottesville for the latest weather conditions. The Valley is expecting minimal impact from the storm.

Shenandoah Valley newspapers:
Waynesboro News Virginian, Staunton News Leader, Augusta Free Press

Richmond, Va. weather:
NBC 12WTVR TV-6, WRIC TV-8, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Northern Virginia Weather:
Fox DC, NBC Washington

Valley emergency info from Del. Steve Landes

Virginia's Gov. McDonnell & emergency officials prepare for Irene

Virginia localities authorized to order mandatory evacuations

More hurricane information and weather:
Pilot Online, Weather Channel, WXrisk Weather, National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Trackers, Weather Underground, Atlantic Weather Updates, Weather Bug, AccuWeather, WAVY

Will Irene track more westerly than predicted?

WXrisk is predicting Hurricane Irene will track further west than expected by the National Weather Service. This storm will affect Virginia over the next twelve hours and, even though it is a Category 1 storm, it is huge and causing extensive damage as it hammers the coastal areas heading toward New York and New England.

Virginia receives federal emergency aid as Hurricane Irene approaches

From Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's office....

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia received a pre-landfall federal emergency declaration. This action allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide supplies, equipment and other needed resources to state and local officials responding to Hurricane Irene.

“I asked the President for the emergency declaration to assure that local and state governments have the necessary support they need to quickly address the needs of Virginians in the aftermath of this powerful storm,” said Governor McDonnell. “This step makes us even better prepared to start response and recovery measures to save lives and protect property.”

The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to lessen the threat of the hurricane in the counties of Accomack, Northampton, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and New Kent and the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.

The federal emergency declaration does not provide disaster assistance to individuals. There is a separate process to request that assistance, which usually comes after the storm’s passage.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Stay updated with Pilot Online

From the beaches of Virginia ... constantly updated news about Hurricane Irene from Pilot Online.

Early earthquake estimates in Louisa County

Louisa County has released preliminary numbers for Tuesday's 5.9 earthquake but warned costs may increase. County damage assessment teams have been working since early Wednesday morning to estimate the extent of damage caused by Tuesday's earthquake. Teams have been concentrated within a five mile radius of the quake's epicenter.  

Preliminary estimates for the five mile radius are the following:
  • $6.3 million in damages to residential structures
  • $400,000 in damages to religious structures
  • $84,000 in damages to commercial structures
  • $50,000 in damages to government structures (not including public schools)

George Allen receives support of NoVa & Shenandoah Valley leaders

More endorsements were announced today for George Allen for U.S. Senate from Northern Virginia and Shenandoah Valley leaders. They cited his leadership in job creation, reining in government, and his pro-growth plan to reinvigorate America's economy.

Using his Blueprint for America's Comeback, George Allen will make us more competitive and help foster an environment to create millions of jobs by reducing taxes on job-creating businesses, unleashing our energy resources, and peeling back the harmful regulations undermining job growth.

Delegate David B. Albo, Springfield
“As governor of Virginia George Allen eliminated parole, reformed welfare, and established high standards for schools. I enthusiastically support George Allen.”

Delegate Clay Athey, Front Royal
“George Allen the strong, common sense conservative we need in the U.S. Senate. This election will have a major impact on the direction of our country and George Allen will fight for our values and principles. He knows what it takes to get our economy going again and has the track record to prove it. I am proud to stand with George Allen and give him my full endorsement.”

Delegate Barbara Comstock, McLean
“We need George Allen’s common sense leadership in the U.S. Senate. George understands that to keep Virginia #1, we have to focus on jobs first and provide the transportation and education infrastructure that keeps us on top. George has long been a champion for Northern Virginia’s entrepreneurs and job creators and providing them with the tools to grow jobs and create prosperity. I look forward to George bringing the Virginia model of success we are demonstrating every day back to the Senate as a model for the country.”

Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason, Potomac Falls
“We need to elect George Allen to the U.S. Senate to fight for our values and stand up to the reckless spending and out-of-control growth of government we’ve seen in the last three years. George Allen has a long track record of small government reforms that have created real results for the people of Virginia. As Governor, he reduced the size and scope of the State government by eliminating waste, cutting taxes and making sweeping welfare reforms that became a model for the rest of the nation. At the same time, Virginia’s economy grew by more than 300,000 net new private sector jobs. As our national debt continues to skyrocket and unemployment remains stuck at 9%, Virginia needs a strong, common sense conservative who will fight for fiscal responsibility in Washington. I am proud to stand with George Allen and help make him our next U.S. Senator.”

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Woodbridge
“I am delighted to endorse my friend George Allen for the United States Senate. We are in perilous times and we need principled conservative leaders to put this nation back on a path of freedom, free enterprise, and meaningful reform. George has the vision, desire and ability to get that job done and he has my enthusiastic support.”

Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Thornburg
“Virginia needs George Allen in the U.S. Senate to restore fiscal discipline and stop the liberals in Washington from sinking our economy and spending away our children’s future. George Allen has stood strong for Virginia’s values throughout his career and he has a track record of conservative leadership that gets results. George Allen has a clear plan to reinvigorate our economy, just like he did as Governor, and I am proud to stand with him in this campaign.”

Delegate Tom Rust, Herndon
“I am proud to stand with George Allen and support him for U.S. Senate. His pro-growth policies as Governor helped bring hundreds of thousands of jobs to Virginia and made the Commonwealth one of the best places in the nation to do business. His plan for America’s comeback will help reinvigorate our economy and rein in this out-of-control spending. In these tough economic times, we need a strong leader like George Allen. He has a proven track record of success and he will fight for our values.”

Delegate Beverly Sherwood, Winchester
“George Allen’s record of success as Governor served as a model for the rest of the nation and helped foster an environment that created over 300,000 jobs here in Virginia. He is a strong fiscal conservative who knows how to get results. I’m proud to stand with George Allen and help make him Virginia’s next U.S. Senator.”

Hurricane Irene: Valley emergency info from Del. Steve Landes

Hurricane Irene is making its way up the eastern coast of the United States. The storm is expected to make landfall by 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening. Peak impact will be Saturday night into early Sunday. Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a State of Emergency in preparation for the hurricane.

Given the timing of the storm, it could touch down during high tide causing additional storm surge. Because it is a slow-moving cell, 15 mph, expect rainfall amounts in excess of 6 inches for a majority of the eastern counties. Along the coast, up to 12 inches of rain are expected.

Please take this storm seriously. Virginia officials are saying it could be as significant a storm as was Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Citizens may experience power outages that could last for days.

Begin preparing for the storm today. DO NOT WAIT!

Below are the Virginia Emergency Resources websites and information call in numbers:

For information on disaster preparations:

For information on emergency kits, including recommended supplies, visit:

For updated news and reports regarding Irene, visit:

For updated news and general information regarding Irene over the phone, dial: 211

Additional Important websites and emergency numbers:

- Dominion Virginia Power, 1.866.DOM.HELP
- Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, 1.800.234.7832.
- Columbia Gas of Virginia, 1.800.544.5606.

The Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response, along with the Virginia Department of Transportation, has created preparedness videos on hurricane evacuations and emergency supplies that can be viewed at

You can also monitor current hurricane projections at:

Hurricane Irene: Emergency information from Rep. Randy Forbes

From the office of Congressman Randy Forbes. For continuous updates:

This weekend, as Virginians are preparing for Hurricane Irene to make landfall, there are practical steps you can take before for the storm and afterwards to secure your home to ensure adequate safety.

The Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response, along with the Virginia Department of Transportation, has created preparedness videos on hurricane evacuations and emergency supplies that can be viewed on YouTube or at You can keep Dominion Power's number (866) DOM-HELP or (866) 366-4357 on hand to report outages or downed lines. For general information about the storm, you can dial 211. In addition, I have compiled a list of resources to help you this week before, during, and after the hurricane.

Be sure to print this article, and the following web resources, in the case you cannot access it due to a power outage.


Hurricane Safety Checklist. Review this Hurricane Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross to prepare for the dangers of a hurricane.

Compile an Emergency Kit.  Use this downloadable checklist to ensure you have necessary supplies on hand.

Evacuate or Stay Put. Listen to the local authorities via your local radio or television and follow their guidance. If you have not been asked to evacuate, determine whether your home or work is safe. You can follow these guidelines from

Track the Storm. Follow NOAA on Facebook ( or Twitter (@usnoaagov) to get updates on Hurricane Irene.

Closings and Cancellations in Hampton Roads. View the latest closing and cancellations as a result of Hurricane Irene.

Subscribe to alert services. Many communities have developed systems that will send text messages or emails alerting you to local emergencies or bad weather. Check the community information page to find ways that you can be alerted for hurricane situations or sign up for local alerts:

Amelia County
Phone: 804-561-3914/ 804-561-3039
Emergency Website

Brunswick County
Phone: 434-848-3107
Emergency Website
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts

City of Chesapeake
Phone: 757-382-6464/2489
Emergency Website
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts

Chesterfield County
Phone: Friday before 5pm: 804-748-1000, otherwise use 804-751-4966
Emergency Website

City of Colonial Heights
Phone: 804-520-9300
Emergency Website
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts

Dinwiddie County
Phone: 804-469-5388
Emergency Website
Sign up emergency alerts

City of Emporia
Phone: 434- 634-4500

City of Franklin
Phone: 757- 562-8581 

Greensville County
Phone: 434-348-4205

City of Hopewell
Phone: 804-541-2298
Emergency Website
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts

Isle of Wight County
Phone: 757-365-6308
Emergency Website
Sign-up for Emergency Alerts

Nottoway County
Phone: 434-645-9044
Emergency Website

City of Petersburg
Phone: 804-733-2300
Emergency Website

Powhatan County 
Phone: 804-598-4878
Emergency Website
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

Prince George County
Phone: 804-722-8614
Emergency Website 
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

Southampton County 
Phone: 757-653-3015
Emergency Website
Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

City of Suffolk
Phone: 757-514-4536
Emergency Website 

Sussex County
Phone: 434-246-1044
Emergency Website

Preparing for Power Outages. Dominion Power suggests updating your account with the phone number you plan to use when reporting your outage. This step will ensure immediate access of your account for faster reporting without having to speak to someone. Phone numbers can be updated on-line or by calling the special phone number update line - 1-800-222-0401.

Charge Cell Phones and Laptops. Make sure cell phones and laptops are fully charged so they can be used in the event of a power outage.

During the storm, if electricity is interrupted. Dominion Power offers these practical tips for dealing with power outages during the storm.
-Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
-Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.
-Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
-Frozen food can last up to three days. It is safe to eat if it still has ice crystals at the center.
-If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.

Coping with power outages. This site from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights healthy steps you should take to ensure food, water, and home safety after an extended power outage. Tips on the site address everything from guidelines on what to do with food in your freezer or refrigerator, to water purification procedures, to carbon monoxide poisoning protection.

Get Up-to-the-Minute Updates on Twitter. Follow Dominion Power (@DomVaPower) and Southeastern Virginia’s Red Cross (@RedCrossSEVA) for regular updates and alerts after the storm.

Servicing your septic system. Once storm waters have receded, there are several things homeowners should consider regarding their septic systems. This site from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers frequently asked questions and answers on servicing septic systems after flooding. The site also includes links to contact information if assistance is needed from local health departments.

Managing flooding and mold. This site from the Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to providing information on cleaning up your home or office after a storm that has resulted in flooding, including addressing standing water and wet materials. The site offers basic information on addressing viruses, bacteria, and mold that can occur in the wake of a flood.

Removing fallen branches and trees. The CDC provides tips to help safeguard against injury as a result of removing fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches, including information on properly using chainsaws in hazardous conditions.

Saving family treasures. These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family’s most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms.

Hurricane Irene: McDonnell orders closing of some state agencies Friday at 3 pm

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) ordered the closing of state offices at 3:00 Friday afternoon in potential hurricane areas, challenging other employers to do the same so employees can prepare for Hurricane Irene.

The impacted areas include the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Chincoteague, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Poquoson and counties of Isle of Wight, Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Middlesex, Matthews, James City, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond, and Accomack.

Here is the press release from the Governor's office on Friday morning:
Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that state offices in areas that will feel the most significant impact from Hurricane Irene will close at 3 p.m. today, Aug. 26. The affected areas are the cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Chincoteague, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Poquoson and counties of Isle of Wight, Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Middlesex, Matthews, James City, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Richmond and Accomack.

“Citizens, including state employees, should be taking seriously the need to prepare for this significant storm and to ready their families, homes and communities for the possible evacuation and for the impacts of Hurricane Irene,” McDonnell said. “I am sending non-essential state employees home to prepare for the hurricane and to relieve congestion to aid in local evacuations, and I challenge other employers in those affected areas to release non-essential employees to enable them to prepare for Hurricane Irene as well.”

State employees in other areas of the state will not be released early, but are encouraged to watch the storm closely and prepare accordingly.
Updates will continue to be released from the Governor's office as the storm approaches.

This Sunday ... "George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview"

"I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people."
- President George W. Bush, 2001

This is one of my favorite photos of President George W. Bush. Taken on Air Force One in the hours after the 9/11 terrorism attacks, he and his advisers were busy working to protect American citizens after the disaster that had come to our shores.

Sunday night the National Georgraphic Channel will air "George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview" to kick off its series of remembrances on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 3,000 innocent people and set in motion military action and a war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reuters gave details of the interview that took place in May of 2011:

The interview was recorded over two days in May, without any questions being submitted in advance, the channel said.

National Geographic said Bush gives "intimate details'' of his thoughts and feelings in a way never seen before. Most of the interview is about the first minutes and hours of the day that Islamic militants hijacked four planes and crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Executive producer and director Peter Schnall said Bush, who has adopted a low public profile since leaving office in January 2009, brought no notes to the interview.

"What you hear is the personal story of a man who also happened to be our president. Listening to him describe how he grappled with a sense of anger and frustration coupled with his personal mandate to lead our country through this devastating attack was incredibly powerful,'' Schnall said.
The special includes footage from behind the scenes on that historic day that changed America, the world, the American people, and a president who had been in office only eight months but who was determined that his most important priority was the safety of the American people and the homeland. Mission accomplished. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Early morning robocall

The "unavailable" phone call came in this morning at 8:35.

Curious as to which telemarketer could be calling this early, I answered and heard a message from political operative Dick Morris speaking on behalf of the "Faith & Freedom Coalition." He noted that in all his years in politics, he had never seen a disaster as big as President Barack Obama's presidency and urged pro-faith, pro-freedom voters to rally for the next election.

He then said to stay on the line to hear how to receive his new book ... free. I hung up at that point.

Dick Morris has lots of insight into politics but he also appears to be an opportunist. He worked for the Clintons during their years in Washington, and now he's cozied up to the tea party folks.

Interesting that they sent those calls out so early this morning....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Va. prepares for Hurricane Irene ... Gov. McDonnell & emergency officials update on conditions

Governor McDonnell and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker
(Photo Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photographer)

Called one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the coast of Virginia, emergency management officials in the Commonwealth along with Governor Bob McDonnell (R) said in a Thursday afternoon press conference that the state has been preparing for Irene. He was joined by those in charge of public safety, homeland security, VDOT commissioner, the superintendent of State Police, and health and human resources who are concerned first and foremost about public safety.

McDonnell expressed appreciation for all helping to distribute important information to the eight million Virginia citizens, many of whom are likely to be in harm's way over the next few days.

He stressed that Hurricane Irene is a very dangerous storm. Many meteorology models are now showing it on a path that would affect eastern Virginia and significantly impact the Eastern Shore, Tangier, and other coastal communities. Citizens need to immediately prepare, if they haven't already, for impact on their areas.

McDonnell warned that citizens should expect the impact of the storm to begin Saturday morning and continue through Sunday and said they could go to for more information.

The eye of the storm at this time is expected to be at the NC/VA border at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. Impact could last 30 hours with tropical storm force winds in and around the coastal areas of Virginia. If the hurricane tracks more west, it will impact more of the Commonwealth.

The Governor issued a State of Emergency on Thursday to activate a variety of plans that state and local governments are taking. He also penned an order allowing localities to issue mandatory evacuations at their discretion based on conditions of wind, storm surge, and other factors. The Governor retained the right to personally order evacuations if needed in the interest of public safety. Public emergency officials have been briefed all day on the storm and are communicating with other emergency departments around the Commonwealth.

The state emergency center was activated earlier this week when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake shook the state. It remains open, available 24 hours a day, in readiness for Hurricane Irene with an evacuation team in place.

Virginia State Police have placed personnel on standby and stationed them in areas where they may be needed particularly in the eastern part of the state. They will be moved to new localities as the projected path of the hurricane becomes better known. The Department of Forestry is in place with chainsaws for debris removal which is anticipated to be a big need due to high winds and heavy rain with many down trees.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will be monitoring highway conditions. The Governor stressed the importance that people know there will be road, bridge, and tunnel closings that may begin as early as Saturday morning. Those closings will take place when tropical storm force winds of 39 mph hit the area so residents need to get supplies and prepare early to avoid being on the roadways at that time.

Virginia's National Guard has been authorized by McDonnell to bring in as many as 300 active duty personnel with the authority to call up another 200 as needed. The Department of Health is working with hospitals and emergency facilities as they prepare for the weekend event.

McDonnell has been in contact with federal and state officials to coordinate emergency responses, and has had offers of help from governors elsewhere, including Rick Perry of Texas, to work together to plan and cooperate for the aftermath of the storm.

Emergency officials will continue to monitor the storm regularly with updates on storm track data from the National Weather Service. Residents, it was stressed, need to take the storm seriously. Estimated to be a category 2 or 3 by the time it hits the coast of Virginia, there's the chance of significant strengthening in the warm off-shore waters. A wobble to the west could cause significant impact farther west in the state so residents are urged to monitor TV and radio stations for information and to know the location of shelters. They are urged to plan for electrical outages and to be prepared with alternate sources of power. All are asked to stay off the roads on Saturday and Sunday until debris is removed.

Low-lying areas may have mandatory evacuation orders from local governments with significant flooding likely at high tide. A FEMA team will be in place to help those in need.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Hurricane Irene: Va. localities authorized to order mandatory evacuations

Governor McDonnell Authorizes Localities to Order Mandatory Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Irene if Necessary
~Individual Localities Will Decide Whether to Issue Mandatory Evacuation Orders for their Citizens~

RICHMOND — Governor Bob McDonnell today authorized localities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for their citizens if the local governing body deems that necessary for the preservation of life or to assist with emergency response and recovery efforts. The authorization is established under Virginia law for severe weather events or other natural disasters.

The governor announced:

“Following a declaration of a local emergency pursuant to §44-146.21 of the Code of Virginia, if a local governing body determines the evacuation is deemed necessary for the preservation of life or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery, pursuant to §44-146.17(1) of the Code of Virginia, I direct the evacuation of all or part of the populace therein from such areas and upon such timetable as the local governing body, in coordination with the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC), acting on behalf of the State Coordinator of Emergency Management, shall determine. Notwithstanding the foregoing, I reserve the right to direct and compel evacuation from the same and different areas and determine a different timetable both where local governing bodies have made such a determination and where local governing bodies have not made such a determination. Violations of any order to citizens to evacuate shall constitute a violation of this executive order and are punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

The Commonwealth does not plan to reverse lanes on Interstate 64. Residents should review the evacuation routes for their area to determine the best route for their families. In the event that a mandatory evacuation is necessary in specific areas, citizens will be provided further instructions through local and state authorities. 

The governor’s order follows his declaration of a state of emergency for Virginia earlier today. Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm since the current storm track does create the risk of potentially serious flooding in those regions. Citizens should listen to local TV and radio stations for instructions, such as an evacuation order for specific areas, details about evacuation routes and locations of evacuation shelters. If an evacuation is ordered for your area, take your emergency supplies with you, including all medications. For a list of suggested emergency supplies you should collect for your family, visit: The governor urges all residents to take this dangerous storm seriously and prepare for power outages and the shortage of supplies. Residents should also know the locations of shelters. A slight deviation in the storm track would increase the risk to Virginians.

The state of emergency declared this morning allows state resources to be made available in a timely manner. The governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.

Emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. For information about preparing for Hurricane Irene, visit  For general information about the storm, dial 211.

Virginia declares state of emergency for Hurricane Irene

Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Irene, which is anticipated to affect the Commonwealth over the weekend. Depending on the storm’s final track, there is the potential for flooding from both rainfall and storm surge in the eastern part of the state.

Winds could potentially reach hurricane strength in the Hampton Roads area; tropical storm force winds could extend much further inland. The ultimate impact of Irene on the Commonwealth will be dependent upon the storm’s exact track, which continues to be subject to change over the next 48 hours prior to landfall. A slight deviation by Irene to the east or west would have a significant impact on observable weather in the state.

Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm. Citizens should listen to local TV and radio stations for instructions, such as an evacuation order for specific areas, details about evacuation routes and locations of evacuation shelters. If an evacuation is ordered for your area, take your emergency supplies with you, including all medications. For a list of suggested emergency supplies you should collect for your family, visit:

The Commonwealth does not plan to reverse lanes on Interstate 64. Residents should review the evacuation routes for their area to determine the best route for their families. In the event that a mandatory evacuation is necessary in specific areas, citizens will be provided further instructions through local and state authorities.

A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts.  A declaration also decreases time needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.

Speaking about the State of Emergency, Governor McDonnell noted, “We are issuing this state of emergency today as a precautionary measure in order to ensure that we are ready for any potential effects of Hurricane Irene in the Commonwealth. Over the last 24 hours, a number of weather models have shifted the forecasted track of Irene slightly to the west, increasing the potential for inclement weather and potentially dangerous conditions in portions of Virginia. At this time, I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm. In conjunction with our federal, state and local partners we are monitoring Irene closely, and we will issue further statements and orders as necessary in accordance with the final projected path of the hurricane. At this time, 48 hours before any possible impact of Irene, it is imperative that, in an abundance of caution, all Virginians, state agencies and localities prepare for this storm.”

State agencies are preparing by in the following ways:

·     The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential impact and to take necessary actions. 
·     The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing available 24 hours a day and is now at Response Condition, due to Tuesday’s earthquake.
·    Virginia State Police personnel have been placed on stand-by and will be pre-positioned to the areas where they will be needed based on the final projected path of the hurricane.  The Virginia State Police Swift Water Rescue Team is standing by in strategic locations.
·    Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are standing by with emergency response personnel and to help with debris removal.
·    Virginia Department of Transportation crews are ready to clear roads and ensure roads are safe for travel.
·   The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty and begin prepositioning resources.
·    The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure that they are prepared for storm impacts. 

Emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. For information about preparing for Hurricane Irene, visit  For general information about the storm, dial 211.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goshen Pass, Virginia ... the Maury River

Goshen Pass where the Maury River passes through the 3.7-mile gorge. Acquired in 1954, the area encompasses the oldest state-managed natural area preserve in Virginia. Numerous rare plants can be found in the deep forests that grow on the mountain slopes covered with oak, pines, chestnut oak, and dozens of other tree varieties.

Rt. 39 runs along the river, providing a beautiful scenic drive just 30 minutes from Lexington and 45 minutes from  Staunton.

A picnic area on Rt. 39 provides access to the river for swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing as well as picnic tables, grills, and a shelter with stone fireplace. Careful! The rocks are slippery so watch your step, and keep an eye out for snakes. Hiking trails are nearby.

A picnic shelter has no nails and is made with the mortice-peg style of construction using only wooden pegs to hold the beams together.

Stacked field stone fireplace.

My Virginia Tech graduate engineer step-dad studied the construction of the shelter.

Mom watched rock-hoppers on the river ...

See another post with more photos: The land of Goshen, Virginia

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
24 August 2011

The land of Goshen, Virginia

Goshen in western Virginia ... green and lush in late summer.

Thousands of Boy Scouts have enjoyed the Goshen Boy Scout Reservation, a gift of 4,000 acres from Marjorie Merriweather Post donated to the National Capital Area Council. Providing a rustic atmosphere for camping, hiking, swimming, and learning new skills for new badges, it is made up of six various "camps" around Lake Merriweather, named after Mrs. Post.

Surrounded by the George Washington National Forest and the Goshen Natural Preserve, boys have been camping at Goshen Boy Scout Reservation since 1967. The location put Virginia in the running for the permanent National Scout Jamboree in 2010 but lost out to nearby West Virginia.

Back roads, mountains, hiking trails, wildflowers, wild critters ...

... and the Maury River that carves its way through the mountains. 

See also post with more photos: Goshen Pass, Virginia ... the Maury River

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
24 August 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rare earthquake hits Virginia

A rare 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia today, startling residents unused to feeling the shaking and rumbling of a seismatic event of that nature.

In Midlothian just outside the Commonwealth's capital city of Richmond, my sister said the rumble made the floor beneath her feet move in a way that made her realize that an earthquake had hit the area. She called immediately afterward to tell me what had happened in her part of Chesterfield County, saying her friend down the street had laughingly told her it sounded as if a helicopter was about to land on her house.When I tried to call her five minutes later, phone lines were jammed and I couldn't get through on her land line but eventually caught up with her on her cell.

Over a hundred miles to the west in Augusta County, glasses clinked and pans clanked hanging on the pot hanger at my house as the floor shook beneath my husband's feet. It lasted a bit longer than he expected and was confirmed as a quake when announcers at the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania reported what had hit Virginia.

In Charlottesville, my brother-in-law was at work when the quake rumbled, causing buildings in the University of Virginia area to sway.

My mom and I were riding the back roads of southern Augusta County when the quake hit and unaware of what had happened until the phone call from my sister informed us of the news followed by a call from my husband that was followed by a call from a friend ... and then text messages started rolling in from all over.

It was the strongest quake since May 5, 1897. So far, there has been minor damage damage reports are coming in from localities. At this point, nothing out of the ordinary had been reported at the nuclear power plant at Lake Anna. Response in Washington, DC, was a bit more than other areas as staffers were evacuated from the Capitol building.

In the Shenandoah Valley, the day is beautiful with temperatures in the upper 70s, low humidity, slight breeze, and sunny skies. All ears had been tuned to weather updates about Hurricane Irene because of its expected impact on Virginia this weekend but now we have something else to talk about for a couple of days.