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Mayor Vincent C. Gray Declares State of Emergency in the District of Columbia

Friday, August 26, 2011
District, regional and federal agencies prepare for impacts of Hurricane Irene.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has declared a State of Emergency in the District of Columbia and is urging residents to take the necessary precautions to prepare for the effects of Hurricane Irene. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain, flash floods, coastal and estuary flooding, high winds and the threat of tornadoes to the area. The city is getting ready for the impending storm and placing agencies on alert. “While we cannot predict with certainty the path of the hurricane, residents must be ready,” said Mayor Gray. “That means residents need to have a plan that they can activate. If they do not have a plan, they can go to hsema.dc.gov to learn what is needed. These storms can cause power outages that may last through several days. Residents should have an adequate supply of medications, infant formula, water, fresh batteries and other essentials.” The District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will begin operating around the clock at 6 am on Saturday, August 27. Interagency personnel will gather at the EOC, at the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE, to monitor conditions and coordinate the District government’s response to the storm. To follow emergency alerts on a real-time basis via www.twitter.com, input #DCIrene into the search field to see all the participating District agencies responses and alerts. Sandbags Available 8/27 at Noon The Department of Public Works is assisting residents with preparing their homes to withstand flooding by distributing five sandbags per household beginning at noon, Saturday, August 27, at RFK Stadium, Lot 7. DPW staff will be on hand to direct residents to the distribution point. Distribution is on a first-come, first-served basis, and will continue until the supply is exhausted. Residents will be asked to show DC identification. Transportation The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are working to ensure the safety of the traveling public from potential storm-related impacts.WMATA is taking steps in advance to prevent service disruptions. Specifically: Crews have placed more than 2,000 sandbags around the escalators at Metrorail stations that have a history of flooding issues. All drainage pumping stations are being checked in advance of the storm and will be monitored throughout the weekend. Plant maintenance staff is clearing drainage areas near stations and yards. Additional support personnel have been scheduled to be on duty throughout the weekend to respond to any situations that may arise. Chainsaws are being deployed in Metro motor vehicles for use in the event of downed trees. “We’re putting all of our resources in place to address any issues that arise out of the extreme weather conditions this weekend,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles. “We will be updating our customers through our website, Twitter, email alerts and the media.” Metro will provide service information throughout the storm online at wmata.com and via [email protected]. Metrorail customers may also sign up for Metro alerts via e-mail by visiting wmata.com or tune to broadcast traffic reports for service information. Given the probability of severe winds and the potential for flooding DDOT’s active construction, project worksites are being secured to prevent damage. DDOT has also directed permit holders working in public space to take measures to ensure their work zones are secured. All work in the right of way, with the exception of emergency repairs, will be suspended at the close of business today (Friday, August 26). In addition: Drainage ways in flood-prone areas are being cleared and actively monitored to prevent flooding issues. Generators are being deployed city-wide to provide backup power for traffic signals. The Urban Forestry Administration is proactively pruning trees along some critical roadways. DDOT personnel and contractors will be on call throughout the weekend to clear downed trees and debris. DDOT is coordinating emergency evacuation preparedness efforts with HSEMA, U.S. DOT, VDOT and MDOT and will continue to track the weather conditions through the weekend. DDOT will be providing critical traffic-related and emergency information on a real time basis via Twitter.com/ddotdc. Residents are strongly urged to avoid traveling during the storm if possible. High winds could topple trees and pose a hazard to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. If weather conditions become unsafe, transit services may be impacted or suspended during the storm. For updates please use the following resources: Metrorail and Metrobus: www.wmata.com and www.twitter.com/wmata DC Circulator: www.dccirculator.com and www.twitter.com/DCCirculator Capital Bikeshare: www.capitalbikeshare.com, www.twitter.com/Bikeshare and www.facebook.com/CapitalBikeshare DC Water DC Water facilities are equipped to withstand weather-related events, and water service interruptions are not anticipated during the hurricane. This includes during power outages. In an effort to minimize water damage, DC Water has checked and cleared storm drains in all areas at risk for flooding. DC Water crews will be stationed throughout the District to monitor hurricane impacts and respond to emergencies. The 24-Hour Command Center will operate in a location with backup power and available for emergency response. The Washington Aqueduct, responsible for treating District drinking water, is working closely with DC Water to monitor water treatment plants and the distribution system. DC Water encourages residents to prepare for Hurricane Irene: Collect cold tap water for storage – one gallon per person (or pet) per day. Store water in a cool environment. Bottled water is unnecessary and most stores are sold out after so many people paid more than a $1 per gallon. Turn on the tap – it’s a penny per gallon. Consider freezing a few jugs, and place these in the fridge during a power outage to keep food cold. Minimize flooding risks – clear gutters and downspouts. Store unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to disinfect water if service is interrupted and for general cleaning and sanitizing. Help DC Water after the storm - safely remove debris blocking storm drains or call 202- 612-3400 for major blockage. Residents should report water emergencies and flooding to the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.For more information, visit www.dcwater.com/emergencies or contact DC Water Customer Service at 202-354-3600 and the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400. Citizens are asked to call 311 to report any downed trees or branches in the public space and to provide as much detail as possible. Emergency Information Resources: Emergency preparedness information is available at 72hours.dc.gov and at HSEMA Hurricane Fact Sheet. Members of the public are also encouraged to sign up to receive updates on severe weather, traffic and incidents via email and/or text message from ALERT DC at https://textalert.ema.dc.gov. Residents can also monitor cable Channel 16 in the District for storm updates. Detailed information about traffic evacuation routes and transportation tips for an emergency incident are available online at ddot.dc.gov. Residents should report water emergencies and flooding to the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.For more information, visit www.dcwater.com/emergencies