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Preparing for Hurricane Florence

By: Victor Sansing

A state of emergency has been declared in the state of Virginia ahead of the incoming Hurricane Florence. This declaration includes the Shenandoah Valley and Waynesboro, Virginia.

Gary Critzer, the Director of Emergency Management in Waynesboro, Virginia, shed some light on the matter.

The incoming storm has the potential to leave serious damage in its wake. Large scale rainfall and massive winds are forecast.

Waynesboro is already taking precautions ahead of the storm.

“Evacuation is definitely a probability,” said Critzer. There is a potential for the evacuation of many areas due to flooding.

The city will have a few emergency shelters set up throughout town.

“Our primary shelter is at Kate Collins Middle School. We have a large generator there that provides backup power for that facility. Our secondary shelters are the high school and William Perry Elementary School,” said Critzer. 

Registered service animals will be allowed to enter these shelters with their owners, but other pets will be put in a separate shelter.

If they’re not service animals there will be a pet shelter set up in the area. It’d be a shared shelter with our partners in Augusta county and Staunton. It’s typically at Expoland,” said Critzer. 

“We’re working right now to determine if were using that shelter or if we will partner with private facilities in the city to house animals. Typically the animal hospitals are very good about working with us if there’s need for pet sheltering,” said Critzer.

Because there is the potential to use schools as shelters, they could be closed.

“I would anticipate that especially if we have to open the shelter; obviously, that would affect Kate Collins. If the weather is terrible and we’re having local flooding I would anticipate that happening. We’ve already been in communication with Dr. Cassle about the shelter and we certainly will be having those conversations with him,” said Critzer about the potential school closures.

“If the roads are not passable or there’s areas that are hazardous, we certainly don’t want school buses out trying to get children to school,” said Critzer.

Tim Teachy, principal at Wayneboro High School, also offered a statement about the potential for school closure.

“Everything is on the table,” said Teachey.

Flooding is also a probability especially in the low-lying, flood-prone areas of Waynesboro. “As saturated as the ground is and with as much rain as we’ve already had over the weekend the river cant handle a whole lot more. Also living next to the mountains we have to deal with all of the runoff that occurs in a major storm like this,” Critzer stated.

According to Critzer, some of the flood prone areas are:

  • Downtown Waynesboro
  • Southeast Main Street
  • South Charlotte Avenue
  • South Bath Avenue
  • Arch Avenue
  • Market Avenue
  • Club Court Area
  • Shore Road
  • River Road
  • York Drive 
  • Areas that butt up against the river
  • Meadowbrook Road

Although many places may experience flooding, Waynesboro has a plan.

“Sand and bags will be made available in all the flood-prone areas,” according to Critzer.

The city doesn’t have the resources to fill all the bags so business owners and townspeople will be given sand and bags, free of charge, but they will be responsible for filling and placing them.

People need to take these evacuations seriously and should comply with the city’s asks. The city does have water rescue services, though.

“We’re part of a regional team, and they’re available. Also, we have access to state resources and statewide water rescue teams if we would need them,” said Critzer.  

“It’s [the team] multi-jurisdictional. It’s Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Rockingham, and they all share those resources. It’s called a regional team it’s made up of folks from all three jurisdictions,” said Critzer.

Critzer would like people to know that they should, “Take this storm very seriously.”

Critzer also believes that everyone should know and understand the following:

“People need to be self sufficient for at least the first seventy-two hours.”

“People need to follow the weather forecasts closely.”

“Close attention should be paid by the people who live or have a business in the low-lying, flood-prone areas.”

“Everybody needs to have a family emergency plan.”

Emergency plans need to be detailed and everyone should be readily equipped with the following:

  • Food and supplies. Have at least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food. For children, have infant food and diapers and for pets, food and supplies.
  • Medical needs. Keep at least one week of medicines and copies of prescriptions. Have a first aid kit and antibiotic ointment.
  • Protective gear and clothing. Keep extra warm clothing, sturdy shoes, and blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Emergency funds. Funds should be available to take care of you and your family for several days. Government funds take time. Plan for funds to cover lodging, fuel and meals. Do not rely on credit cards or debit cards because networks such as the internet or electrical infrastructure may be damaged. Withdraw plenty of cash before the storm.
    Image Credit: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    Image Credit: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed September 11, 2018.

    Image Credit: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed September 12, 2018.

    Image Credit: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed September 12, 2018.

    All of the information in this article is subject to change with the constantly updating forecasts. Still, people should not take this storm lightly and be prepared for anything that could happen as a result of the incoming cyclone.


3 Responses to “Preparing for Hurricane Florence”

  1. Lucas says:

    I’m proud of you victor! Definitely showing the brains off with this one!

  2. Sarah Spence says:

    Fabulous job, Vic! Impressive journalism, indeed.

  3. Mr. Peters says:

    Well done Victor! I found the article to be very informative and well written. Good work!!

    :)A. Peters


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