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District of Columbia Prepares for Hurricane Irene

Friday, August 26, 2011
District of Columbia government agencies are mobilizing personnel, equipment and other resources in anticipation of predicted severe weather this weekend.

District of Columbia government agencies are mobilizing personnel, equipment and other resources in anticipation of predicted severe weather this weekend. The National Weather Service (NWS) reports the District will be affected by strong wind and heavy rain related to tropical storm Irene on Saturday and Sunday. In response to the forecast, the District will activate the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), located at the Unified Communications Center at 2720 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20032 at 6 a.m. on Saturday, August 27. Representatives from District and Federal agencies, DDOT, DPW, MPD, FEMS, WMATA, Pepco, WASA, the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area, the DC National Guard and other emergency response partners will be monitoring the storm. The Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) issued a citizen’s alert through the Alert DC emergency text alert system and posted information on city websites, including 72hours.dc.gov and www.hsema.dc.gov, informing citizens about protective actions and referring them to additional sources of preparedness information. HSEMA is conducting daily conference calls with District response agencies to ensure they are prepared to respond to the storm, and activated a “storm plan” outlining preparations, cataloging assets and listing resources that each agency will utilize. All emergency response agencies are taking inventory and staging supplies, equipment and other resources, and developing personnel deployment schedules. “HSEMA advises citizens to prepare in advance for emergencies. The District government is taking steps to prepare in case the city needs to respond to the storm,” said HSEMA Director Millicent West. “ In addition to our daily calls with District Response Plan lead and support agencies, we conduct daily conference calls with the National Weather Service and FEMA Region III, which encompasses the mid-Atlantic region. We are confident that District is ready to respond when the tropical storm hits.” The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) - is staging generators and portable stop signs for rapid deployment to critical vulnerable locations. Traffic control officers are on stand-by in the event they are needed to direct traffic at critical intersections. The DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) - is checking and cleaning catch basins in neighborhoods with repetitive flooding issues. WASA has portable pumps and generators that will be pre-staged at problem areas. The Department of Public Works (DPW) - has equipment ready to assist with debris removal and is stockpiling sandbags for distribution in the event of localized flooding. There was an extremely high demand for sandbags. The demand for sandbags by District residents exceeded its supply of about 7,000 bags. As a result, DPW discontinued distributing bags at 5 pm. DPW will receive a shipment of about 2,700 bags by Saturday morning that will be available for residents with DC identification pick up by District residents starting at noon, Saturday, August 27, on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents, with DC identification, may pick up sandbags (up to five per household) at RFK Stadium, Lot 7. The sandbags weigh between 40 lbs. and 50 lbs. and residents will need to load them into their vehicles. Department of Human Service (DHS) – will reserve five (5) recreation centers for possible emergency shelters IF conditions warrant. The shelters are as follows: Benning Stoddert Community Center100 Stoddert Place, SE Southeast Tennis and Learning Center701 Mississippi Ave. SE Emory Recreation Center5801 GA Ave. NW Turkey Thicket Recreation Center1100 Michigan Ave. NE Kennedy Recreation Center1401 7th Street NW Metro - crews have placed more than 2,000 sandbags adjacent to escalators at Metrorail stations with a history of flooding issues. All drainage pumping stations are being checked and will be monitored throughout the weekend. Plant maintenance staff is clearing drainage areas near stations and yards. Additional support personnel will be on duty throughout the weekend to respond to escalating emergency conditions. Both the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS) - have personnel and apparatus on standby. Staff from the District’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) have inspected and replenished supplies in anticipation of downed trees. In addition, tow cranes will relocate vehicles that impede DC crews from removing downed trees or debris that blocks the streets. Registered owners will not be fined under these circumstances; driver should call 311, visit www.dpw.dc.gov, or call 202.567.6071 if they suspect their vehicle has been towed. The American Red Cross of the National Capital Area - is prepared to operate shelters should it become necessary to evacuate citizens from their homes. TIPS FOR RESIDENTS Residents are encouraged to review their emergency plans, check the readiness of their emergency go kits, and ensure their personal information is up-to-date and accurate. Visit www.72hours.dc.gov for information about emergency go kits or family emergency plans. All residents are urged to prepare for this weekend’s storm by: Clearing gutters, drains and downspouts and removing loose objects such as lawn furniture or barbecue grills from their yards; Gathering water and non-perishable food to last for at least 72 hours for each household member, along with any medical supplies or other specialized items; Keeping a battery-powered radio, flash light and extra batteries; Not driving or walking through standing water and avoiding downed utility lines; Following District parking enforcement regulations; Secure trash and recycling containers before the storm to avoid injury from airborne materials; Calling the Mayor’s City Wide Call Center at 3-1-1 to report downed trees; and Staying tuned to local television or radio stations for updates on the weather forecast and information from city officials about additional precautions. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Mayor’s City Wide call center at 311.