- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Va. governor declares state of emergency for Irene
Question of the Day
NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia officials warned residents on Thursday to prepare for massive power outages, flooding and damage from Hurricane Irene comparable to that of Hurricane Isabel, which knocked out power to about 2 million people as it tore through the state in 2003.
Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in preparation of Irene’s weekend arrival. The declaration allows state resources, such as the National Guard, to be sent to Hampton Roads to help local officials. About 250 Guard members have been put on alert for hurricane duty.
Mr. McDonnell said he did not plan to order a statewide evacuation or reverse lanes on Interstate 64. But he cautioned eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas to be ready in case of a local evacuation.
“At this time, 48 hours before any possible impact of Irene, it is imperative that, in an abundance of caution, all Virginians, state agencies and localities prepare for this storm,” Mr. McDonnell said in a release.
Old Dominion University in Norfolk planned to close its campus on Friday and Christopher Newport University in Newport News canceled all campus activities, including classes, Friday through Monday.
Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said he expected some localities to issue evacuations Thursday or Friday.
Forecasters have yet to pinpoint where the hurricane will make landfall. Irene could hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Saturday afternoon with winds around 115 mph, then head up the coast toward Virginia.
The U.S. Navy ordered dozens of ships out to safer waters earlier Thursday so they could better weather the storm. The Coast Guard is also moving its ships to designated safe havens such as marinas as the storm approaches. It is advising recreational boaters to move their vessels to safe harbors and is beginning to identify and track commercial vessels in case Hampton Roads’ waterways need to be closed.
The Port of Virginia remained open for business Thursday, but workers were securing loose items and tearing down stacks of cargo containers to reduce their wind profiles.
While areas along the coast are expected to take the brunt of the winds, officials said tropical-force winds of up to 40 miles per hour can be expected as far inland as Richmond.
That means power outages are expected to be extensive, Mr. Spieldenner said. Whereas Isabel impacted about two-thirds of the state, he expects at least a third of the state to be affected by Irene.
“We could have folks who are going to be without power for a number of days,” he said.
Mr. Spieldenner said storm surges along the coast are expected to be up to 8 feet. Flash flooding in low-lying areas also is expected.
“They could use Isabel as a reference,” he said. “Some areas it’s going to be a little worse, some areas it’s going to be better, but that can give the extent of power issues and issues at their home.”
Isabel, a Category One hurricane when it reached Virginia in September 2003, killed more than 30 people and caused more than $1 billion in property damage. In addition to the power outages, half the state’s population was without water and debris from the storm filled more than a half-million dump trucks.
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Pentagon running out of time to find mass of missing weapons in Afghanistan
- Federal judge rules D.C. ban on handguns in public is unconstitutional
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- The List: Top 20 TV medical shows
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq