Virginia residents should expect worsening conditions, McDonnell says

The worst of Hurricane Sandy is yet to come for the vast majority of Virginia residents, Gov. Bob McDonnell said during a press conference in Richmond Monday afternoon.

The latest forecasts indicate the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and part of the I-95 corridor stretching down to Richmond will get one to three inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour, McDonnell said.

The Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area has received the worst of the storm already, he said. Flooding will likely remain a problem in such areas.
Northern Virginia, the most densely populated area of the state, will have wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour, increasing the chance of power outages.

“The power outages have been fairly limited [so far],” McDonnell said.“[But] prepare now for power outages.”

Higher elevations in Virginia may get more than a foot of snow with blizzard conditions, and coastal areas may experience significant flooding, according to weather reports.

“The most recent flooding … information indicates this is about the level we experienced several years ago with Hurricane Isabel,” McDonnell said.

The National Weather Service released a blizzard warning for Charlottesville for areas elevated above 2000 feet. The warning covers areas such as Wintergreen Resort and the Afton Gap. The warning extends through 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The governor encouraged everyone to stay inside as much as possible during the day, but the state lifted High Occupancy Vehicle restrictions on major highways to encourage those who need to travel to use major roads.

“Our prime request today and tomorrow at the height of the storm is do not go out,” McDonnell said. “People are largely staying off of the roads.”

State police have been deployed to areas affected by the storm. McDonnell requested emergency assistance from the federal government Monday to help state and local governments recover from the damages Hurricane Sandy is likely to inflict.

The governor also petitioned citizens to donate to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund and the American Red Cross to help victims and families.

“We’re going to have the need for individual assistance,” McDonnell said. “[The Red Cross has] indicated they will do whatever they need to do to help people in Virginia.”

He encouraged localities to keep their registrars’ offices open for extended hours in the coming days if they need to close for the storm, considering the proximity of the Nov. 6 election. Citizens typically drop off absentee ballots at their local registrar’s office up until the Tuesday before Election Day.

“As conditions improve, our registrars will do the right thing and keep offices open,” McDonnell said.

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