- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2011

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Thursday declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irene, which could hit Virginia’s coast this weekend.

A state of emergency is declared so that state resources can be made available and to ensure a fully coordinated state response to support local recovery efforts.

The state is urging Virginians to prepare for the hurricane, which is forecast to be a Category 2 hurricane as it passes near the Virginia coast on Saturday and Sunday.

“At this time, I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm,” said Mr. McDonnnell, a Republican. “In conjunction with our federal, state and local partners we are monitoring Irene closely, and we will issue further statements and orders as necessary in accordance with the final projected path of the hurricane. 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.”

The state has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential impact, Virginia State Police personnel have been placed on stand-by, and Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are standing by with emergency response personnel.

Department of Transportation crews are ready to clear roads, the Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty and begin prepositioning resources, and the Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure they’re prepared for storm impacts.

The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing available 24 hours a day and is at Response Condition due to Tuesday’s earthquake.

For more information about preparations, visit www.vaemergency.gov, and for general information about the storm, residents can dial 211.

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