Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mayor Jones Statement on City's Winter Storm Preparedness Actions


Mayor Dwight C. Jones discussed how the City of Richmond is preparing for the anticipated major snow storm event that is expected to impact the city beginning Wednesday afternoon.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the city of Richmond from 1 p.m. February 12 until 7 p.m. February 13. City officials have urged residents to prepare for the weather, and city government is also preparing for this storm.

City Government held a Winter Weather Briefing on Tuesday at City Hall involving all agencies of City Government, Richmond Public Schools, Richmond City Sheriff’s office, Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority, Richmond City Health District and GRTC.

“It is routine for us to hold such a preparatory meeting when a major event is anticipated,” stated Mayor Jones. “By bringing all the agencies and related authorities together well in advance, we can better lay out our plans for resident notification efforts, storm response tactics, as well as efforts to deal with any aftermath of the storm.”

Actions taken by the City in preparation include the testing of generators at sites that may be used for public shelters and coordinating efforts with the Red Cross. The City plans to have shelter space set up and ready to open Wednesday afternoon in the event major power outages are experienced.  Specific locations and information will be announced throughout the day. Shifts have been set for workers that may work the City’s call center to help provide residents with vital information, and a strike team (to work the call center for extended hours) has been assembled to begin working from 4 p.m. tomorrow until the event ends.  As the storm is expected to be a consistent snow event, the City’s vehicle fleet is being checked for readiness and to determine which vehicles may need to be outfitted with snow chains. There will be a dedicated mechanical team to provide the snow chain application support to City vehicles.

“Our plans at this time include the opening of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 1 p.m. on Wednesday,” said the Mayor. “The EOC serves as our command center where we will continue to gather information and roll out our plans. I will continue monitoring the forecast and we will get targeted updates from the National Weather Service at 11 a.m. and then again at 4 p.m. The forecast at this time remains somewhat complex and there is still considerable uncertainty with regard to the track and intensity of the storm. I will make a decision regarding a possible local state of emergency at the proper time. The important thing at this particular juncture is that we have our preparatory actions in order ahead of time, even if we later declare a state of emergency.”

The Declaration of a local State of Emergency empowers the City with enhanced procurement authority beyond what is normally granted in the City Charter and provides more flexibility to City government when responding to a weather event. The declaration also places the City in consideration for possible costs reimbursements from the State if the event becomes sizeable enough to trigger State and Federal reimbursements.

“With the potential of power outages and roads possibly being blocked because of heavy snow, I again urge residents to prepare ahead of time for this storm and to make an emergency supply kit to include essential supplies that will last at least three days,” continued Mayor Jones.

For up-to-date information and additional instructions from the City of Richmond during this weather event, please visit www.Richmondgov.com, follow the City on Twitter @CityRichmondVA, and stay tuned to local radio and television stations.