CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- With one day until the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, local, state, and federal officials gathered at Virginia's Emergency Operations Center in Chesterfield Wednesday to discuss how they are prepared and urging the public to be as well.
"It only takes one hurricane, it doesn't matter what the preseason forecast may be," Shawn Talmadge, State Coordinator of Emergency Management at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), said. "It could be higher than normal, lower than normal, or right in the middle, right? A normal season. But frankly, it only takes one hurricane strike on Virginia to make it abnormal."
The operations center where the gathering was held is where the different agencies come together to guide a response to a hurricane.
"For us at the state level, what we're trying to do is really understand what's going on at the local level. We exist to support our localities and so, we're working very hard to plan and prepare and we exercise and train for hurricane season," added Talmadge. "And so we're learning what capabilities our localities may need."
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) addressed the various agencies and said they worked together to ensure they were not caught off guard.
"The work that is being done today is work that will benefit Virginians across the entire Commonwealth. See, the challenges with hurricane season are not just challenges that impact our coastal regions. They are challenges that impact the entire Commonwealth and oftentimes, it is the rain or tornado that was spun off from a hurricane or tropical storm," said Youngkin.
He also implored Virginians to follow a four-step plan to be prepared for hurricane season.
"One, individuals and institutions and corporations should check their insurance coverage to make sure that it is not just comprehensive, but an adequate level with inflation driving replacement costs much higher than they have been historically," said Youngkin. "Second of all, become very familiar with your evacuation zones and not find yourself at a time when you need to execute an evacuation and you don't know where to go."
Youngkin also said to stay up to date with weather forecasts.
"Finally, have a personal preparation plan. And that will include an emergency kit, understanding what numbers to call or where to get information and, finally, once again, knowing the evacuation zones."
Talmadge added that in preparation for this season, VDEM has been focused on a few areas.
"We kicked off a strategic planning process to really look at our sheltering, processing capabilities, and we're trying to identify opportunities to make a better sheltering system. Another big thing over the last 12 months is we've been really aggressive in our search and rescue program. A major hurricane will cause widespread damage and we want to be able to conduct search and rescue very rapidly. We've hosted a number of actual, both tabletop but also functional exercises," said Talmadge. "I think the last thing to highlight is, we published these new hurricane guides and there's one that's focused on coastal Virginia and there's also inland flooding."
Those guides can be found here.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org to send a tip.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews