Thursday, February 13, 2014

City Scales Back Emergency Operations


The City’s Emergency Operations Center has begun to demobilize and is now operating with partial activation.

The City of Richmond’s two emergency shelters have been placed on stand-by status. The shelters may be re-activated if City officials determine that a need arises this evening.

City crews are beginning to work on neighborhood streets and will continue throughout the day. City crews will return to work on Priority One and Priority Two roads if additional snow accumulation occurs.

City government will open at the regularly scheduled time on Friday, February 14, 2014.

City Government Offices Closed Thursday, February 13

The City of Richmond Government Offices will be closed today, February 13. Essential personnel are to report to work at their regularly scheduled time. Employees should contact their immediate supervisor if they have questions regarding the time they are to report to work. Offices will open at regular business hours on Friday, February 14.

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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

City Opens Emergency Shelters as Winter Storm Approaches

The City of Richmond has opened two emergency shelters to assist City residents in the event power outages occur as a result of the winter storm. Residents who reside in areas where power outages are frequent during storms are advised to seek shelter now before traveling conditions deteriorate. The City’s Emergency Shelter locations are:

Linwood Holton Elementary School
1600 West Laburnum Avenue

James Blackwell Elementary School
1600 Everett Street

Residents should bring any medication, personal items and supplies that they may need. The City will provide meals and snacks to shelter attendees. Residents may also charge their medical equipment batteries and cell phones at the City shelter in the event they lose power at home. Weapons are not allowed in the City shelters. Pets are not allowed within the City shelter with the exception of service animals. Richmond Animal Care and Control (RAC&C) will staff both City shelters to accept the pets of residents attending the shelter. RAC&C advises residents that pets should be brought indoors, and if they do need to be outside, they should have adequate shelter that protects them from exposure to winter weather. Residents should call (804) 646-5123 if they need RAC&C to pick-up their pet from their residence.

“With the potential of power outages and roads possibly being blocked because of heavy snow, I urge residents who believe they have a potential to lose power to travel to a City shelter now,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will open tonight, February 12 and Thursday, February 13 as overnight temperatures are forecasted to remain at or below 40 degrees during this time period. The overflow shelter is located in the City’s Public Safety Building, 501 North 9th Street. The shelter entrance is the second entrance on the 9th Street side of the building closest to Leigh Street. The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and closes the following morning at 6 a.m. Shelter registration will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

The Cold Weather Day Warming site will open tomorrow, Thursday, February 13 as daytime temperatures are forecasted to remain at or below 40 degrees during this time period. The warming site is open each day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Commonwealth Catholic Charities operates the day warming site at 511 West Grace Street.

Residents in need of overnight shelter are asked to report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry by 5 p.m. each day for a comprehensive intake and referral to the appropriate shelter. Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry is located at 511 West Grace Street. A referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will be provided to individuals who are not eligible for an existing shelter or if all available beds have been filled. Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral.

The City’s Department of Social Services will accept Crisis Assistance applications now through March 15 at 900 East Marshall Street, Monday through Friday; from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents can also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046. The department also provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for residents who qualify.

Elderly or residents with disabilities may also contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.

City Invites Public to the Richmond Riverfront Plan Projects Public Forum on February 18


The City’s Department of Planning and Development Review invites the public to attend the rescheduled Richmond Riverfront Plan public forum on Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m. at the Virginia War Memorial, 621 South Belvidere. The meeting will detail two of the Richmond Riverfront Plan projects: Brown’s Island Dam Walk and Chapel Island Trail. This meeting was originally scheduled for January 21, but it was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Brown’s Island Dam Walk will re-purpose an existing historical dam structure into a pedestrian and bicycle route that will connect Brown’s Island on the north bank to the Floodwall and Manchester neighborhood on the south bank. The Chapel Island Trail will build a universally accessible route along the north bank of the river from 14th Street to Great Shiplock Park.

What:         Richmond Riverfront Plan Projects Public Forum
When:       Tuesday, February 18 at 7 p.m.
Where:      Virginia War Memorial
                 621 South Belvidere Street

The meeting will open with a concise overview of the City’s Riverfront Plan. The firm leading the design of both projects, Hargreaves and Associates, will make a presentation of the schematic designs at 7 p.m., with the balance of the meeting open to audience questions and comments.

Parking is available at the Virginia War Memorial and along Second Street.

For more information, contact the project manager Tyler Potterfield at Thomas.Potterfield@RichmondGov.com or call (804) 646-6364.

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.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

City Advises Residents to Prepare for Winter Storm


A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the city of Richmond from noon February 12 until 6 p.m. February 13, as local forecasts have indicated that the city will be impacted by winter weather during this timeframe. As a result, the City of Richmond encourages residents to take precautions now in preparation for any winter precipitation.

Residents are encouraged to make an emergency supply kit to include essential supplies that will last at least three days. Supply kits should include a hand-cranked or battery-powered radio and extra batteries, non-perishable food and water, toiletries, flashlights, a first aid kit and medications. Also, include items needed for infants, seniors, and pets. You may want to keep a second kit in your car in the event you must travel during inclement weather.

The City asks that residents remain home during this weather event and offers the following safety recommendations:

•    If you must drive, drive cautiously and decrease speed;
•    Have a full tank of gas;
•    Have a fully charged cell phone with you;
•    Stay inside if possible. If you need to go out, dress in several layers of lightweight clothing. Wear mittens or gloves and a hat, preferably one that covers your ears;
•    Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite;
•    Avoid overloading electrical outlets;
•    Do not connect your generator directly to your home's wiring or house your generator inside your home. Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home's wiring may 'back feed' onto the power lines connected to your home;
•    If space heaters are being used, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Make sure your space heater is three feet from any flammable material. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater;
•    Stoves or ovens should not be used as an alternate source to heat your home;
•    Bring your pets indoors. If you are unable to bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.

Although mass evacuations do not appear to be necessary with this weather event, City officials may decide some area evacuations are necessary. Residents should prepare to be self sustaining by having food that doesn’t need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day.

The City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will open tonight, February 11, Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13 as overnight temperatures are forecast to remain at or below 40 degrees during this time period. The overflow shelter is located in the City’s Public Safety Building, 501 North 9th Street. The shelter entrance is the second entrance on the 9th Street side of the building closest to Leigh Street. The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and closes the following morning at 6 a.m. Shelter registration will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

The Cold Weather Day Warming site is open today and will also open tomorrow, Wednesday, February 12 as daytime temperatures are forecast to remain at or below 40 degrees during this time period. The warming site is open each day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Commonwealth Catholic Charities operates the day warming site at 511 West Grace Street.

Residents in need of overnight shelter are asked to report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry by 5 p.m. each day for a comprehensive intake and referral to the appropriate shelter. Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry is located at 511 West Grace Street. A referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will be provided to individuals who are not eligible for an existing shelter or if all available beds have been filled. Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral.

The City’s Department of Social Services will accept Crisis Assistance applications now through March 15 at 900 East Marshall Street, Monday through Friday; from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents can also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046. The department also provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for residents who qualify.

Elderly or residents with disabilities may also contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Businesses have a critical role in emergency preparedness. Putting a disaster plan in motion now will improve the likelihood that your business or company will survive and recover. Visit www.ready.gov/business for more information.

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.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Statement of Mayor Dwight C. Jones Regarding Leadership of the Richmond Department of Social Services


Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement regarding the leadership of the Richmond Department of Social Services and the operations of the Child Protective Services unit:

“I’m here today to provide a status report on the operations of the City’s Department of Social Services, and in particular, to address on-going concerns regarding the Child Protective Services unit.

“It’s been just over one year since we began making major changes in the Department’s functioning:

     • Personnel changes were made from top to bottom.
     • We named an interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services.
     • We called for an internal audit of the City’s Child Welfare Practices.
     • We called for external reviews of the agency by the Virginia Department of Social

           Services and the Child Welfare League of America.
     • On-site reviews of case files were done.
     • Matters of compliance were heavily reviewed.
     • Staff interviews and stakeholder interviews were conducted.
     • A corrective action plan was developed and is currently in motion; to include more staff training.

“Over this period, some strengths in the Richmond Department of Social Services were noted, but weaknesses also continue to be cited. Most recently, the City’s auditor issued a report last month identifying additional deficiencies in the operations of the department.

“What’s apparent to me is that we are still not doing the best job with respect to protecting the safety of vulnerable children. That is unacceptable to me.

“The problems we are working to address are more deep-seated than anticipated.

“So, today I am announcing that David Hicks, my senior policy advisor, will serve as interim director of the Department of Social Services until we identify the right permanent placement. He will report directly to me in that capacity. I believe that David can offer valuable insight and leadership to help uncover the process issues that need to be fixed and that will ultimately turn the agency around.

“The Virginia Department of Social Services remains very much a partner in our efforts to improve. We’ve also accepted additional support from VDSS, and a process-centric analysis is currently underway. The state-assigned specialist is currently in the discovery phase, which I expect to be completed within the next week. After that time, we’ll begin implementation of the process issues that need to be corrected and I believe, based on the information provided and the additional steps that we are taking, that we’ll see a much stronger functioning agency within the next six months.

“We will continue to call on Steve Harms for his support in the role of the interim deputy chief administrative officer (DCAO) for human services for as long as he is available to us in that capacity and until we have named a permanent placement in that role. The DCAO role remains responsible for the general oversight of the Department of Social Services, Human Services, Libraries and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. The DCAO also serves as the City’s liaison to Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and Richmond City Health District.

“Steve will continue to focus on quality management and compliance issues, while David will help us delve into the process issues that continue to affect this agency.

“Every child should have the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving and stable environment. Our job is to fill the gap when such an environment is not available to a child. I believe the reinforcements we are announcing today will help improve the outcomes for any vulnerable children, youth and families in our city that we should be serving.

“We noted before, and I still believe today, that there are many very capable staffers in the Richmond Department of Social Services. I want to thank Ms. Becky China, one of those dedicated professionals who served as interim director over the past several weeks following deputy police chief Tonya Vincent’s departure from that role. Ms. China will return to her regular duties in that department and we will continue to call on her valuable experience.

“We are going to address the remaining weaknesses and strengthen the operation of this critical agency. The bottom line is that I will accept nothing less than the Richmond Department of Social Services being a high performing agency, performing all duties according to all applicable standards and ensuring the utmost in child safety practices.”