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Culpeper County declares state of emergency

Culpeper County officials declared a local state of emergency this morning in preparation for the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which has increased in intensity as it makes landfall.

Local officials anticipate significant flooding, downed trees and power outages as a result of this major storm.

Culpeper County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Chase declared the state of emergency earlier this morning. In the declaration, Chairman Chase noted the potential for “extensive power outrages, significant flooding” and “conditions of extreme peril to life and property.”

County and town officials have been making plans since late last week for this potentially damaging storm. The Emergency Operations Center is manned with a basic staff. Additional town and county personnel will be called in to staff the center as conditions warrant.

The Salem Volunteer Fire Department will open as an emergency shelter.

The Red Cross has positioned trailers at the fire company to assist with shelter operations. When the shelter opens, the public will be notified and Red Cross and Culpeper Human Services employees will staff the shelter.

State officials, in a conference call, this morning told county officials to anticipate three to six inches of rain from late this afternoon until Tuesday night. That significant amount of rain could cause flooding in low-lying areas prone to high water.

The local area is also under a high wind warning, with sustained winds of between 30 and 55 mph excepted and gusts of 60 to 70 mph possible.
High winds and significant rainfall contribute to trees toppling into power lines and across roads.

“We are asking people to stay home and off the roads,” said Culpeper County Emergency Services Director Tom Williams.

The E-911 center is fully staffed in anticipation increased call volume due to the storm.

The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office has additional units on duty. The Culpeper police department stands ready to respond as to emergencies as well. Fire and rescue departments are staffed and ready to respond.

VDOT crews are available to help clear roads of debris or fallen trees.

Town public works crews remain on duty and on call. All equipment is ready to be deployed should trees topple or roads become flooded.

The town’s Light and Power department has equipment and personnel on standby to respond.

Town Manager Kimberly Alexander closed town offices at 10 a.m., sending non-essential employees home.

If town electric customers experience a power outage, please call the answering service at 825-8165 to report it. For downed trees, flooded streets or water problems, town residents should call 825-0285.

Town employees may call the town’s hot line at 829-8252 to determine if they need to report to work Tuesday.

State officials offer the following tips as the storm bears down on our area:
What to watch out for:

•If a traffic signal is out, drivers are advised to treat the intersection as a four way stop.

•Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.

•Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.

•Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause you to lose control and hydroplane.

•Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas. Water in those areas can rise quickly and without warning during heavy rains.

•In the event of a flash flood warning for your area, seek high ground immediately.

•Watch for debris on the roadway. If you encounter a downed power line, do not try to move the line. Downed trees may contain power lines. Contact VDOT or Dominion Virginia Power.

Messages to motorists:

•Limit travel during height of storm.

•Monitor local weather and traffic reports before getting into the car.

•Before heading out the door, get the latest road conditions by calling 511, visit www.511virginia.org or download the mobile app from the 511 web site.

•Use 9-1-1 only in emergencies. Dial #77 on cell phone to report traffic crashes or traffic emergencies to State Police.

•State law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are activated.

•Motorists must use extreme caution on the road and never attempt to drive through flood waters.

•Remain alert to avoid fallen trees.

•Drive free of distractions and always buckle up.

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