As Sandy looms, go inside Henrico’s ‘Central Command’

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-27 00:24:48-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Virginia (WTVR) - As the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy, localities across Virginia are preparing for the storm.

Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth early Friday.

At a Friday afternoon news conference, he warned Virginians about the potential dangers that lie ahead.

“We`ve been advised that we can have 40 to 50 mph gusts in Central Virginia as far west as Charlottesville,” McDonnell said.

Localities across the Commonwealth are heeding the governor's warning and preparing for the worst. 

“We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best, and I think that`s what`s going to happen,” Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazlet said.

He met with his emergency management team Friday to discuss storm preparedness, and the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) opens Saturday at 7 a.m.

“This is what you would basically call central command,” Henrico County Fire Battalion Chief William Poston said.

Poston gave CBS 6 News a tour of the center. He says 20 to 25 representatives from each department within the county – including police, fire, public works, public safety, social services and fire -- will sit face-to-face at a long table.

“Where we can collaborate and work as a team, so fire can talk to the people that run water, and schools can talk to mental health and social services if people need shelter,” he said. And then they can send resources to those who need it. 

The center also has real time maps, TV monitors to keep up with media and weather reports, as well as computers to get up-to-the-minute information from Virginia Power and gas companies.

While the center works for citizens, the governor wants residents to do their part.

“So, shopping now, today, tomorrow for the event is absolutely critical to be sure you got what you need,” he said.

The City of Richmond is also taking similar measures, and plan to open three storm shelters Richmonders might want to take note of:  Linwood Holton Elementary, J.H. Blackwell Elementary and Freedom House Conrad Center.

Since pets are not allowed at the storm shelters, Richmond Animal Care and Control will have staff at Linwood Holton Elementary and J.H. Blackwell Elementary to collect and take care of your pets for you.