Monday, August 29, 2011

The Aftermath of Hurricane Irene: Frequently Asked Questions

Congressman Randy Forbes

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Although Hurricane Irene has passed, the effects of the storm continue to take a toll on families and businesses as we face clean up and recovery efforts. I have compiled the following questions and answers to help provide information in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Use the links below to jump to Frequently Asked Questions and answers on each topic.

-Power Restoration Process
Timetables, Key Contacts

-Coping with Outages
Food Safety, Using a Generator

-Essential Items , Like Water and Ice
Obtaining Drinking Water, Water Safety, Price Gouging

-Returning Home and Dealing with Home Damage
Surveying Your Home for Damage

Cleaning a Flooded Basement, Saving Important Documents, Flood Insurance

-Tree and Debris Removal
Locality Debris Removal, Chainsaw Safety

-Getting in Touch with Family Members
Sending Messages to Service Members

-Internet, Cable and Phone Service
Key Contact Information

-Insurance Claims
What Insurance Covers, Preparing to File Claims

-Key Contact Information


At the peak of the power outages, nearly one million Dominion Power customers in Virginia and North Carolina experienced power outages.  The following questions will provide information on coping with power outages and staying updated on when power is expected to return.

How do I contact my electrical provider?
Please contact Dominion via the Toll-Free Number: 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative: 1-804-747-0592
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-800-367-2832
Prince George Electric Cooperative: 1-804-834-2424
Southside Electric Cooperative: 1-866-878-5514
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-888-335-0500
Columbia Gas of Virginia: 1-800-544-5606

Where can I track the status of Dominion Power outages?
If you have access to the internet, Dominion Power outages can be tracked here. If you do not have internet access, you can call 1-866-366-4357 to report an outage or to receive information on efforts to restore power. 

When can I expect to have power restored?
On Monday, Virginia Governor McDonnell announced that Hurricane Irene resulted in the "second largest power outage in the history of this state." According to Dominion Virginia Power, 90-95 percent of the customers affected by Irene-related outages should expect to have power restored by the end of the day Friday. Seventy-five percent will be restored by the end of the workday on Wednesday.  In Northern Virginia, where Irene had lesser impact, restoration will be completed tomorrow. Nearly all customers in the remaining areas, which suffered the most extreme damage, will have their electric service restored by the end of the day Saturday.

Are certain citizens given priority for power restoration?
According to Dominion Power, its first priority will be to restore critical infrastructure circuits. These lines power hospitals, water pumping stations, police departments, and other emergency facilities.  After critical infrastructure power is restored, Dominion will work to restore power to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time, meaning that if your outage impacts a relatively few number of people it may take longer for your power to be restored.

As of Monday morning, Dominion had 618,000 customers without service including 197 critical customers. 140 of the 203 critical customers without service have restoration times for today.  Their priority will be getting the remaining critical customers restoration times.  All hospitals have been restored across the state. 


I have health problems and need air conditioning, who should I call?
Contact your locality using the key contact information provided below. They will be able to provide you with essential resources.

What should I know about using a generator?
Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators reported involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.

Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's instructions. CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.

Electrical Hazards

  • Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
  • Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.
  • NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as "backfeeding." This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

Fire Hazards

  • Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

Read more:

Once I have lost power, how long can I eat food that requires refrigeration?

  • Don't eat anything you suspect of being spoiled. Remember the phrase: When in doubt, throw it out.
  • In a disaster cleanup, the last thing you want is to get sick from food poisoning. Remember to wash your hands often with purified water, and wash any body part that has been in contact with polluted water.
  • Food in an unopened freezer should stay frozen for about two days. Save that food for last, and don't open the door until you have to.
  • Food in a refrigerator without power will stay cool for several hours. Consume perishables first, such as dairy products and meat. Grill your meats if possible because cooked meat stays edible longer than raw meat.
  • Eat sparingly and don't open the refrigerator unless necessary
  • If food begins to turn moldy or smell bad, throw it away.

Read more: 

What should I do to prepare items in my home for restoration of power?

  • Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to the appliance and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
  • Leave one lamp or light on so you will know when power is restored.
  • Listen to your local radio station on your car or battery-powered radio for regular news and weather updates.

Read more:

What precautions can I take for candle safety?

  • Use a flashlight instead of a candle whenever possible.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, curtains, or flammable liquids.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily and are made from a material that can't burn.
  • Keep candles out of reach of children.
  • Try to avoid carrying a lit candle.
  • Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment.
  • Fire can pose a major threat to an already badly damaged flood area because of inoperable fire-protection and firefighting water supply systems, hampered fire department response and flood-damaged fire-protection systems. To protect yourself against fires after a natural disaster, keep at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job. 

Read more here:


Where can I obtain ice and drinking water?
Information on where to obtain ice and drinking water in your locality is located in the key contact information section of this page here.

Is it safe to drink well water?
Owners of wells and septic systems should take extra precautions to protect their health, according to state health officials. Floodwaters may contain fecal matter from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural or industrial waste, according to Dr. Robert B. Stroube, state health commissioner.

Those who rely on private wells should consider the water contaminated if it was submerged during the hurricane. People should test the water for bacteria before drinking it. Health officials recommend two samples taken on consecutive days.

Owners of septic systems should inspect for damage and, if necessary, contact local health departments for decontamination instructions. Damaged septic systems can cause sewage to back up into homes, posing a risk of disease.

Some community water systems are under advisories to boil water:
    o   Isle of Wight County (Rushmere subdivision and Carrsville)
    o   Greensville County Water and Sewer Authority (Jarratt)Southampton County (Drewryville)

Read more: or

What do I do if I suspect price gouging? 
Virginia has an anti-price gouging law – the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act – that is only activated by the declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor or the President of the United States covering areas in Virginia.  This Act remains in effect in affected areas typically only for thirty (30) days immediately following the declaration of a state of emergency.  The provisions of the Act apply to the price of motor fuels and other essential consumer goods and services in the affected area.

If you suspect price gouging in Virginia during a declared state of emergency, you may call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963, or you may report the incident utilizing the Price Gouging Report Form that is available from the website of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at

Read more and access a price gouging complaint form here: 


What do I need to keep in mind when returning home?
Before entering, walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect a damaged home.  The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

Do not enter if:

  • You smell gas.
  • Floodwaters remain around the building.
  • Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.

The following items are other things to check inside your home:

  • Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor's residence. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they're safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
  • Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
  • Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.
  • Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
  • Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater.
  • Your basement. If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.
  • Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.
  • Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
  • Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs. 

More information can be found here:

When is it safe to begin work on my home that has been damaged?

  • Never assume that water-damaged structures or ground are stable. Buildings that have been submerged or have withstood rushing flood waters may have suffered structural damage and could be dangerous.
  • Don't work in or around any flood-damaged building until it has been examined and certified as safe for work by a registered professional engineer or architect.
  • Assume all stairs, floors and roofs are unsafe until they are inspected.
  • Leave immediately if shifting or unusual noises signal a possible collapse.
  • Flood waters can dislodge tanks, drums, pipes and equipment, which may contain hazardous materials such as pesticides or propane.
  • Do not attempt to move unidentified dislodged containers without first contacting the local fire department or hazardous materials team.
  • If working in potentially contaminated areas, avoid skin contact or inhalation of vapors by wearing appropriate protective clothing and respirators.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash skin that may have been exposed to pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. 

Read more: 


What steps do I take following a flood?
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.  

What should I do if driving and I come across flood conditions?
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV's) and pick-ups. 

Read more: 

How do I clean a basement after a flood?
Basements flooded with surface water, seepage through walls, or backflow from sewer lines often suffer little or no structural damage from the water, because the water inside braces the walls against the pressure of outside water and waterlogged soil.

How and when do I pump the water out?

  • Do not drain water inside the basement until most of the water on the outside of the walls has gone down. This will prevent the walls from being pushed in or the floors from heaving.
  • If you have a large amount of water in your basement or if there is no basement drain, you may need to buy or rent a sump pump to get rid of the water.
  • If your electrical panel is located in an area of your home that has been flooded, you will be unable to use an electric sump pump unless you use a pump driven a 12-volt auto battery. A gasoline engine pump may be used if exhaust can be vented to the outside.
  • Start pumping water out of your basement if the water inside is higher than the flood water level outside. You may need a measure to determine this.
  • Stop pumping when the two water levels become equal.
  • Pump the basement water out at the same rate at which the flood waters recede.

How should I clean the basement?

  • Shovel mud from the basement as soon as all water has drained or has been pumped out to allow floors and walls to dry.
  • Remove silt and dirt stains by rinsing concrete walls and masonry foundation walls with a high pressure hose.
  • If stains remain on the walls, scrub them with a stiff bristle brush and household detergent. Begin at the top and work down. Rinse often with clear water.
  • Start drying the basement as quickly as possible in order to minimize wood decay or growth of mold.
  • Open all doors and windows to allow the moisture to flow outside.
  • Buy or rent a fan or dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
  • If you are sensitive to mold or mildew, wear a mask or respirator containing an appropriate filter.

How do I get rid of odors?
If ventilation does not remove odors:

  • Mop concrete floor and walls with a bleach solution (3/4 cups of household bleach to a gallon of water.)
  • Rinse and dry after 5 minutes.
  • Open windows when applying the bleach solution.
  • Place a lump of dry charcoal in an open tin/metal container to absorb odors.

Removing Mold from Your Home
After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. Be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family, if your home has water damage due to:

  • Flooding,
  • Sewage back-up,
  • Plumbing or roof leaks,
  • Damp basements or crawl space,
  • Overflows from sinks or bathtub, or
  • High humidity: steam cooking, dryer vents, humidifiers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes general background information about mold health hazards and mold safety recommendations. Read more:

How do I avoid electric hazards when cleaning up flooded areas?

  • If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
  • Never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet, unless you are certain that the power is off.
  • Never touch a downed power line.
  • When using gasoline and diesel generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the off position prior to starting the generator.
  • If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines. Extreme caution is necessary when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid inadvertent contact.

Read more: 

There is sewage in my house, what should I do?
If there has been a backflow of sewage into the house, the following measures should be taken to ensure proper clean-up:

  • Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
  • Thoroughly disinfect surfaces that come in contact with food and children's play areas.
  • Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean.
  • Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, must be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant.
  • Steam-clean all carpeting.
  • Fiberboard, fibrous insulation and disposable filters that have contacted floodwater or sewage should be replaced in your heating and air conditioning system.
  • Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.
  • As you clean up your home, be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants, as combining certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
  • It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items soaked by sewage or floodwaters may be unhealthy. In general, materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours should be discarded.

Read more: 

How do I preserve photos and documents?
These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family's most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms. 

How do I file a claim for flood damage?
FEMA has established a step-by-step guide to help you properly submit a flood insurance claim.

  • First, review the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Claims Handbook. It provides additional help with the process of filing a claim.  The handbook can be found here:  
  • If possible, photograph the outside of the premises, showing the any damage or flooding. Also, photograph the inside of the premises, showing the damaged property and the height of the water if your property was flooded.  
  • Call your insurance agent to report your claim. If you have separate flood insurance, also call your flood insurance agent to report your claim. Your flood insurance agent will prepare a Notice of Loss form and an adjuster will be assigned to assist you.  
  • Separate the damaged from the undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the insurance adjuster's examination. If reasonably possible, protect the property from further damage.  
  • When the adjuster visits your property, let him or her know if you need an advance or partial payment of loss. Again, good records can assist your insurance companies and the NFIP in giving you an advance payment. Use your inventory to work with the adjuster in presenting your claim.  
  • Damaged property which presents a health hazard or which may hamper local clean-up operations should be disposed of. Be sure to adequately describe and photograph discarded items so that, when the adjuster examines your losses and your records, these article are included in the documentation.  
  • Good records speed up settlement of your claim. Compile a room-by-room inventory of damaged goods, and include manufacturer's names, dates and places of purchases, and prices. Try to locate receipts or proofs of purchase, especially for major appliances, and note manufacturers' names, serial numbers, prices, and dates of purchase.



How do I handle a downed tree that is touching power lines?
Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire. Instead, contact your electric company. Read more about tree-trimming services provided by Dominion here: 

What are some safety tips for using a chainsaw?
Removing debris and tree branches may require the use of a chainsaw. It is important to use the following safety tips when operating a chainsaw:

  • Chainsaw operators must wear/use protective equipment, including:
    • Hard hat
    • Eye protection (safety glasses or goggles)
    • Hearing protection
    • Leather work gloves
    • Cut-resistant leg wear (chaps, leggings, pants) with two-inch boot overlap
    • Sturdy boots, preferably steel-toed
  • Make sure the chain brake is on when:
    • Starting the saw
    • Both hands are not on the saw, or
    • Taking more than two steps
  • Before starting the saw:
    • Size up the tree
    • Watch for hazards around the tree
    • Cut only when it's safe to do so
  • Starting the saw:
    • Place the saw on the ground
    • Place the toe of your boot through the back handle to hold the saw down
    • Hold the front handle with your left hand
    • Use your right hand to pull the start cord using a fast but short stroke. 

Read more: 

What information is available on removal of debris in the aftermath of a hurricane?
Each locality will have different procedures for removing debris. Below is a summary of currently available information for selective localities in the Fourth District that have published plans regarding waste management. You are encouraged to contact your locality for more detailed information.

City of Chesapeake
Trash, Bulk Trash and Debris Pick-up
Automated trash collection resumes Tuesday, August 30, but there may be delays.  Bulk trash and debris pick-up will begin on Wednesday, August 31, with no calls or scheduling necessary.

Several sweeps of the City will be made by contractors and City trucks until all debris is picked-up.  It does not have to all be out today.  Also, different types of debris will be picked up on different days, so woody debris may be picked up on a different day than an appliance.  Debris pickup may take several weeks.

To Speed the Process: 
Place all tree debris, leaves in clear bags and other storm debris at the curb, separately. Bulk trash and debris will be picked up separately from the regular trash collection.

Combine woody debris at the curb with your neighbors.  This will speed the pick-up process. Bag small limbs, leaves, etc. in clear bags and place with your debris.

Keep debris away from obstructions, such as mailboxes and power poles.

City of Suffolk
Residents are encouraged to place all debris curbside.  More information regarding special debris pickup will be made available.            

City of Emporia
Special debris pickup times are in effect for the next 30 days.  The Department of Public Works will be releasing more specific information at a later time.

City of Colonial Heights
Special debris pickup is underway across the city through tomorrow by local contractors.  Residents will need to place all debris next to the curb for pickup.

City of Franklin
Residents are encouraged to place all debris curbside. The Department of Public Works will be releasing more specific pickup information at a later time.

Chesterfield County
Residents can bring storm-generated waste to one of the county's two convenience centers, located at 3200 Warbro Road and 6700 Landfill Dirve. Both centers will be open extended hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through September 11. All normal disposal fees will be waived through September 11.  For more information visit

Prince George County
Prince George County will open its solid waste convenience site through September 11.  Normal disposal fees will be waived to help the citizens as they clean up their properties. The short-term opportunity is open to just Prince George County residents and business owners. The Convenience Station will be open Monday, August 29, 2011 at 7:30am, and will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.

This chart provides general information about the debris removal process:


Where can I find basic roadway information?
Real-time listings of road conditions in Virginia are available on VDOT's 24-hour traffic and travel information website, or by calling 511. Current road closure information can be found on the website.

Hampton Roads area traffic information is available on Twitter: @511hamptonroads. Richmond area traffic information can be found on Twitter @511centralVA. For general VDOT information, follow @VaDOT.

Where do I report road problems?
You can report road problems to any of the following:

What do I do if a traffic signal is out?
If a traffic signal is out, drivers are advised to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

Where do I report a downed tree or other roadway hazard?
VDOT is working in partnership with utility companies and emergency responders to access the affected areas and remove obstructions as quickly as possible to restore all travel lanes to service. VDOT's Customer Service Center is open 24 hours a day to answer questions and take reports of road debris, downed trees, traffic signal repair requests, or other roadway hazards at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).

What safety precautions should I follow?
Motorists are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • 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 your local power company.

Read more: 


I am a service member or family member of a service member.  How can I send an urgent message to a service member?
The Red Cross is the official liaison between the military and their families for transmitting emergency family messages. When a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to help. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea.  More information can be found here: 

To send a message to a service member contact the American Red Cross toll free at 877-272-7337.

When calling the Red Cross, please provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known:

  • Full name
  • Rank/rating
  • Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Social Security Account number or date of birth
  • Military address
  • Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)

I am a military family member and my service member is on a ship sortied out of Norfolk.  How do I make sure they are ok?  How do I find out when they will be home?
For the most up to date information on specific ship's condition and schedule contact your Command Ombudsman or Family Readiness Group.

What is the customer service number for my Internet, phone or cable provider?

  • COX Customer Care Center – 757-222-1111
  • Verizon Customer Service – 1-800-VERIZON (1-800-837-4966)
  • Charter Support – 1-888-438-2427
  • Comcast Support – 1-800-COMCAST (1-800-266-2278)


In general, you should contact your insurance company immediately to find out whether damage is covered, how long you have to file a claim, whether you claim exceeds your deductible, and whether you'll need to get estimates for repairs. The following information provided by the Insurance Information Institute (III) may be helpful in dealing with insurance.

How do I know what will be compensated for damage?
Vehicles: If your car was damaged and you have comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, contact your auto insurance company. If your car has been so badly damaged that it's not worth repairing, you will receive a check for the car's actual cash value -- what it would have been worth if it had been sold just before the disaster. Kelley Blue Book ( or other such publications can give you an idea of what your car was worth.

Trees and shrubbery: According to the III, most insurance companies will pay some amount for the removal of trees or shrubs that have fallen on your home. They will also pay for damage caused to insured structures and their contents up to policy limits, but they won't pay to remove trees that have fallen causing a mess in your yard.

Water: While homeowners policies don't cover flood damage, they cover other kinds of water damage. For example, they will generally pay for damage from rain coming through a hole in the roof or a broken window as long as the hole was caused by a hurricane or other disaster covered by the policy. If there is water damage, check with your agent or insurance company representative as to whether it is covered.

Read more: 

How can I be best prepared to facilitate insurance claims?
The Insurance Information Institute offers the following advice to facilitate the insurance claims filing and settlement process:

  • Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster, who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the damage. Make sure you give your agent a telephone number where you can be reached.
  • If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
  • Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
  • Make whatever temporary repairs you can without endangering yourself. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
  • Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
  • If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.

Read more: 


Amelia County
Emergency Operation Center not in Operation
County Emergency Coordinator Phone: 804-561-3914
County Administrative Office Phone: 804-561-3039
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice or drinking water.  Local authorities report that the County is not experiencing a shortage of ice or drinking water.

Brunswick County
No confirmed Emergency Operation Center
County Administration Office Phone: 434-848-3107
Emergency Website: 

City of Chesapeake
Emergency Operation Center not in Operation
City of Chesapeake Phone: 757-382-2489
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The City is not currently distributing ice or drinking water

Chesterfield County
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operations Center Phone: 804 768-7263
Chesterfield County Government Office Phone: 804-748-1000
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: Chesterfield County is not distributing ice.  The County Department of Utilities has established a drinking-water distribution station at Phillips Volunteer Fire Station at 10630 River Road.

City of Colonial Heights
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 804 524-8776
City of Colonial Heights Phone: 804-520-9300 
Emergency Website:  

Dinwiddie County
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 804-469-5388
Dinwiddie General Administrative Office: 804-469-4500
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is distributing ice and water at Dinwiddie Elementary School.  The school is located in Dinwiddie at 12811 Boydton Plank Road.  That distribution center was opened at 9 am this morning (August 29th) and will also be open tomorrow morning at the same time.

City of Emporia
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 434-634-2121
City of Emporia Phone: 434- 634-4500
Emergency Website: 

City of Franklin
Emergency Operation Center not in Operation
City Emergency Department Phone: 757- 562-8581 
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice, but drinking water is being provided to the public at the Franklin fire station located at 100 South Main Street in Franklin.  Local authorities report that ice is available at most local grocery and convenience stores.

Greensville County
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 434-348-4200
Greensville County Office Phone: 434-348-4205
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice or drinking water.  Local authorities report that the Wal-Mart in Emporia continues to stock ice.

City of Hopewell
Emergency Operation Center not in Operation.
Emergency Management Office Phone: 804-541-2298
Emergency Website: 

Isle of Wight County
Emergency Operation Center Open
Non-Emergency Phone: 757-357-2151
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice.  Most grocery and convenience stores are supplied with sufficient ice and water with additional ice deliveries expected today, August 29th.  Read more:

Nottoway County
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 434-645-8696
Nottoway County Phone: 434-645-9044
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: According to local authorities the County is not currently experiencing a shortage of ice.  Ice can be purchased at most local grocery and convenience stores.

City of Petersburg
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 804-733-2328
City of Petersburg Phone: 804-733-2300
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The City is not currently distributing ice or water. 

Powhatan County
No confirmed Emergency Operation Center
Powhatan County Phone: 804-598-4878
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice or drinking water.  Local authorities report that there is not a shortage of ice or water in the County.

Prince George County
No confirmed Emergency Operation Center
Emergency and Fire Department Front Office Phone: 804-722-8614
Prince George's County Administrator's Office:      804-722-8600
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The County is not currently distributing ice.  However, the County is distributing non-drinking water at three points located throughout the County: Bank of McKenney parking lot – Jefferson Park Road at Owens Way; Courthouse parking lot – Courts Drive near Scott Park; and, the old "Pumpkins" restaurant parking lot – 12000 block of Crater Road, across from Steven Kent hotel. The distribution sites will be open from 3:00pm – 6:00pm until further notice.  This water can be used to flush toilets and cook and drink as long as the water is boiled first.  Read more: 

Southampton County 
Emergency Operation Center Open
Emergency Operation Center Phone: 757-653-2100
Southampton County Administrator Phone: 757-653-3015
Emergency Website: 

City of Suffolk

Emergency Operation Center not in Operation
Hurricane Irene Assistance: (757) 514-4100 – until 8/30/11 at 5:00pm; (757) 514-4000 – starting 8/31/11
Emergency Website: 
Ice/Drinking Water: The City of Suffolk is not currently distributing ice.  Suffolk's Division of Public Utilities reports that they will have water filling stations at Lakeland High School and at the Suffolk Airport's main gate.  Those stations will be open beginning at 8:30 a.m. today, August 29th.  Read more: 

Sussex County
No confirmed Emergency Operations Center
Emergency Management Office Phone: 434-246-8224
Sussex County Administration - 434-246-1000
Emergency Website: 

Red Cross
Southeastern Virginia Chapter
American Red Cross
611 W. Brambleton Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510-1004
Phone: 757-446-7700

Greater Richmond Chapter
American Red Cross
420 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-780-2250

Southside Area Chapter
American Red Cross
3267 A South Crater Road
Petersburg, VA 23805
Phone: 804-733-5711

Key Twitter Handles to Follow for Constant Updates on Storm Recovery, Resources, and Progress: 














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