Henrico County is warning residents to expect potential wind damage, flash flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Florence, a massive storm expected to make landfall in the Carolinas late this week.
“Florence has the strength to cause widespread damage in Henrico, throughout Virginia and across the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Anna M. McRay, deputy coordinator of emergency manager for the Henrico Division of Fire. “With the storm’s outer bands expected to bring heavy rains beginning Thursday, residents should take steps now to protect themselves and their families.”
To prepare for the storm, the Division of Fire recommends that residents:
• Make an emergency kit, with enough food and water for each family member to last 48 to 72 hours. Kits also should include batteries, flashlights and bottled water;
• Charge cellphones and other wireless devices;
• Get cash, as banks and ATMs may be closed or inaccessible;
• Fuel vehicles ahead of the storm, as power outages and other effects may limit supplies;
• Register for Henrico’s CodeRED emergency notification system, at henricoalert.org;
• Use generators safely. Keep them outdoors and away from windows and doors to avoid exposure to carbon dioxide. To avoid possible electrocution, don’t use generators in the rain;
• Ensure enough medicine and supplies to last at least two weeks. Anyone with medical needs requiring access to electricity should consider staying with friends or relatives who have power;
• Protect pets by bringing them indoors before the storm hits and consider their needs when planning a household emergency kit; and
• Make sure gutters and storm drains are clear and that yard furniture and grills are secure.
Florence’s sustained rains have potential to leave roads throughout Henrico flooded and inaccessible.
“The greatest threat from the storm will be water, not wind,” said Capt. Rob Rowley, public information officer for the Division of Fire. “Never drive on a flooded road, no matter how shallow the water may seem. Turn around, don’t drown.”
Henrico’s departments and agencies have been monitoring Florence’s track and mobilizing resources. The county expects to activate its emergency operations center early Friday and has a plan to activate emergency shelters if they are needed. Water levels in four lakes with county-owned dams will be lowered 12 inches over two days beginning Wednesday in anticipation of Florence’s heavy rains. Water levels also will be lowered at Echo Lake.
Henrico will provide updates on the storm’s effects on henrico.us, HCTV and social media, using the hashtags #FlorenceVA and #ReadyHenrico.