Hurricane Florence: Why Mayor Stoney declared state of emergency in Richmond

Posted at 3:15 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 18:26:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hurricane Florence is not expected to directly hit Richmond, Virginia after coming ashore later this week. But its impact could still create dangerous, or even deadly, circumstances here.

That's one reason why Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney declared a state of emergency for Richmond.

"Gov. Northam has declared a state of emergency [in Virginia] ahead of Florence, and today I'm declaring a state of emergency in the city of Richmond as we begin to mobilize city resources in preparation for the storm and take the necessary precautions to provide the safety, well being, and health of all citizens," Mayor Stoney said.

Echoing sentiments of the CBS 6 Storm Team, the mayor said heavy rain and strong wind could impact Richmond.

"We will begin to prepare ourselves for what could happen once the storm makes landfall and what happens in the western part of the state," Mayor Stoney said. "It’s too early to tell what impacts Florence may have on our city, but it’s not too early to prepare for this storm. The City of Richmond will be ready, and I urge residents and businesses to prepare and be ready as well."

He urged families to review their emergency plans and stock up on supplies, including enough food and water to last three to five days in the event of a power outage.

"Plan for the worst and hope for the best," he said.

Richmond Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Robert Steidel said city crews have been cleaning in and around storm drains in an effort to clear potential blockages and prevent neighborhood flooding.

"We've done all that we can," he said. "The system is in good shape."

The floodwall passed its most recent round of testing this past June, he added.

The floodwall could come into play if heavy rain falls west of Richmond.

"That water has to go somewhere. It's called going down river. Richmond lies down river," Mayor Stoney said. "We have to continue to monitor what the water looks like... maybe a week after rainfall occurs."

Steidel said a decision on whether or not to close the floodwall would be based on the elevations of the river itself.

"It would not be necessary to close it until the predictions of the levels in the river are such that we would have to close the wall to protect the city," he said.

He said river levels would have to reach nine or 10 feet at the Westham gauge for that to happen.

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