Saturday, December 29, 2012
It was a busy year!
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
- James Cullum
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The year 2012 is nearly over, and as we look back, it truly was a remarkable period for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The presidential election, a hurricane, the recession and so many other events kept us busy, and there was always reason to celebrate and find happiness. So, from thousands to choose from, here are my favorite photos of the year. It really was tough eliminating some from the group! Enjoy the pictures, and Happy New Year! - James Cullum, Local Editor, Lorton Patch
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Telecommunications company has spent months making improvements in hopes of avoiding another 911 system failure.
An estimated 2.3 million people lost access to 911 service this summer when the area was hit by a derecho. Now, with Hurricane Sandy lined up to potentially slam Northern Virginia, Verizon — the company that provides the emergency communication service — is confident that the long list of improvements it has made in the months since are enough to weather the storm. "We're ready for Sandy," Verizon spokesman Harry J. Mitchell told Patch in an interview Friday evening. In late September, Verizon released an 11-page Moving Forward presentation (see the PDF attached at the right) outlining the issues with its power system and internal and external communication that contributed to the 911 system failure — and the steps that have been or will …
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Northern Virginia's extreme weather started last winter, meteorologists say.
Derechos, blizzards, hurricanes, thunderstorms, extreme heat...is there any wacky weather Northern Virginia hasn't seen in recent years? This past summer saw enough 100-plus degree days to make 2012 the most intense in 141 years of record-keeping according to the Capital Weather Gang. “Starting from this past winter, we had temperatures that were much above normal,” said Ken Widelski of the National Weather Service. “It was an abnormally warm winter, followed by a cooler than normal spring and we definitely had our periods of hot weather over the summer.” As for this June's derecho, it’s typical climatologically for this area to see a derecho every couple of years, Widelski explained. What was unique about this year's derecho was the …
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The town hall meeting will discuss Dominion's response and restoration efforts after the June 29 storm.
Local legislators will host a town hall meeting with Dominion Power next week to discuss the power company’s response to the derecho storm on June 29. Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th), Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36th) and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) will host the town hall meeting with Dominion’s vice president for Distribution next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Sherwood Regional Library. Residents from both the Mount Vernon and Lee Districts are encouraged to attend this meeting to discuss Dominion’s response to the derecho as well as learn about underground electric utility lines in both districts. Attendees will learn about the pros and cons of underground utility lines, the cost of installation, who pays for underground utility lines, and regulatory and …
Del. Surovell will host a town hall meeting about burying power lines in Mount Vernon and Lee.
Two months ago, my wife and children were out of town so I decided to work at my office in the City of Fairfax until about 9:30 p.m. As I drove home from Fairfax, I was listening to WTOP and didn’t notice anything unusual other than a thunderstorm warning for the far western suburbs. Around 10:30 p.m. the wind started blowing and the power went out. I called my wife after our generator didn’t turn on and looked outside. The 100 year-old trees in my yard were swinging around like Hurricane Isabel and it didn’t stop for fifteen minutes. That’s when I knew this was no ordinary storm. The next day, as I disseminated information and checked out Dominion’s outage map, it was obvious that we had a major situation on our hands. As I walked my …
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Fairfax County encourages residents to take a brief online survey.
As hurricane season looms, Fairfax County officials want to know how they can improve their communications during times of crisis, and they’re seeking feedback from residents. After the June 29 derecho that killed four people in Fairfax County and damaged more than 100 homes, officials want to know how they can best interact with residents and business owners during emergencies like severe weather, hurricanes or even terrorist attacks. “We’re asking for every resident to provide input, as well as business owners,” said David McKernan, coordinator for the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, in a release on the county’s web site. “It’s important for us as emergency planners to learn how this storm affected our residents, …
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Supervisor Jeff McKay urges Fairfax County residents to create emergency plans.
I’ve been thinking a lot about emergencies lately—a derecho, four days without power in a heat wave with two small kids and a flooded kitchen floor will do that to you. So will a magnitude 5.8 earthquake such as the one we experienced last August. In this part of the country, we’re accustomed to weather emergencies that give a few days’ notice—with hurricanes and snow storms there’s usually time to make a store run, secure loose items around the house and alter travel plans. Garden variety thunderstorms are a normal part of our summers and any power outages are usually short. The derecho (violent straight line thunderstorms with the power of tornados) that roared into our area on June 29 was something else entirely and a sharp reminder …
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Sometimes old school technology, or none at all, is the most effective way to deal with emergency situations
The old expression “hanging by the telephone” might confuse anyone under 30 these days. They have no idea what it was like before the advent of cell phones, and for those under 40, they may not remember a time without call-waiting or even answering machines. You had to wait at home for important phone calls. Fast forward to today: You find yourself in a wireless dead zone or your battery dies. Desperation sets in. How will I call home? How can I connect with those I am supposed to have a business meeting? Enter old school technology Do you know that an address book also refers to a small book that has room for alphabetical listing of your friends, family and business contacts with their numbers, addresses and other information? Even if you…
Monday, July 16, 2012
Fairfax County's Office of Emergency Management developed an online tool for reporting storm damage.
Fairfax County residents can now report damage from storms, hurricanes, fires and more with a new online tool. The county’s Office of Emergency Management launched the disaster reporting system after the June 29 derecho that killed 13 people Virginia, including four in Fairfax County. Falling trees from the storm damaged more than 100 area homes. According to the county’s emergency blog, the system allows the county to share damage reports with Virginia state officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or the U.S. Small Business Administration. The reports will allow authorities to determine whether the county can be declared a major disaster area and what assistance should be given to affected county residents. Residents are urged…
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Prepare now for the next time we're without electricity.
There have been ample opportunities over the past weeks to be reminded of how much we rely on electricity. Perhaps the first few hours without power are okay, even possibly fun as we indulge in memories of camping. Then the need to hunker down sinks in, as we eat the second (or third) quart of softening ice cream and put another thawed steak on the grill. We intended to be better prepared for the next emergency, but oops! Where to start? Forewarned is forearmed. Local services, such as Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) provide traffic and weather notices to your phone, via email or other options. Visit Fairfax County’s Website for links to a variety of local and national alert services and sign up. The United States…