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: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit. 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 www.vaemergency.gov. For general information about the storm, dial 211.