Obama Declares Emergency for D.C.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Watch Doug Kammerer's latest weather update. (Published Sunday, Aug 28, 2011)

    Now downgraded to a Tropical Storm, Irene's last band of wind and rain blew out of the D.C. around 9 a.m. Sunday.  While the storm's main threat now moves northward towards New York, flooding and gusting winds will remain a threat throughout Sunday, as the region begins to clean itself up.

    President Barack Obama declared an emergency for D.C. Sunday morning and ordered federal aid for recovery efforts from Hurricane Irene, NBC News reported.  Obama’s action allows FEMA to allocate equipment and resources to the District to support the recovery.

    Mayor Vincent Gray said the city was lucky that damage was not worse.  He said crews had been working throughout the evening to keep the District road's clear.  Mayor Gray also said he hoped that schools and government agencies would be able to open as normally scheduled on Monday.  "Everything is a go at this stage," he told News4.

    Gov. Martin O'Malley said Ocean City, reopened to residents and business owners on Sunday morning, sustained little damage in the storm.  The governor said Ocean City mayor Rick Meehan "was almost giddy to be able to report that his city fared as well as it did."  Visitors will be allowed back into the city at noon.

    Representatives from both Pepco and Dominion Power warned that the number of power outages could rise on Sunday.  Although the rain has passed, winds will persist throughout the day Sunday.  Both utilties said some of those outages could stretch for several days.

    The wide eye of Irene was about 15 miles from Ocean City, Md., at about 2 a.m., but predicted 80 mph winds were actually closer to 70 mph. High tide is at 7:22 a.m., and flooding could be a problem then.

    By about 3 a.m., it reached D.C.'s latitude, and after that, the metro region started to dry out, News4 Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer reported.

    Irene remains a troublesome storm for the region, though. One third of St. Mary's County, Md., is without power, said Bob Kelly, of the Public Safety Department. The St. Mary's Lake is rising, leading to a code red for about 30 residents who live downstream of its dam.

    In some areas, the strongest gusts of winds came after the rain started to dissipate, including 58 mph at Reagan National Airport. While the rain should be out of the area by 8 a.m. and the sun could be out not long after, Sunday still will be windy.

    A flood warning has been extended until 8 a.m. for D.C.; Anne Arundel; Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties in Virginia; and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. While less than another inch is expected to fall in the warned area, Virginia has already has 2-4 inches of rain, and Maryland and D.C. have had 4-8 inches.

    A flood warning was extended until 9 a.m. for extreme northern Anne Arundel and Howard counties as well as Baltimore and Baltimore and Harford counties.

    Rock Creek was at 6 feet at 1 a.m.and is expected to reach flood stage and remain above it through the night.

    The latest on power outages, as of 6 a.m.:

    7:30 AM UPDATE

    DOMINION: 118,737 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED IN NORTHERN VA

    PEPCO: 192,183 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED

    BGE: 103, 994 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED IN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY; 23,246 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY; 5,769 CUSTOMERS OUT IN CALVERT COUNTY

    NOVEC:  1,494 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED

    ALLEGHANY: 6, 157 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED  IN MARYLAND;  239 IN WEST VIRGINIA

    DELMARVA: 116,288  CUSTOMERS AFFECTED

    SMECO: 99,644 CUSTOMERS AFFECTED

    It will take several days for power to be restored to all customers.

    The combination of wind gusting at more than 70 mph and high tide when Irene reached Virginia Beach Saturday evening threatened to create epic storm surges.

    "I'm told this is going to be a fairly quick event," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said. "Unfortunately, this is also astronomical high tide -- 7 o'clock at the oceanfront, 8:30 to 9 o'clock in the tributaries along the Nansemond, the James and the Elizabeth rivers. It's just a bad timing with winds at their peak at the same time as high tide, so storm surge is very dangerous."

    Storm surges of 5-7 feet, up to 8 feet in some places, are now predicted.

    "That would put the storm surge higher than Isabel, in fact higher than the 1933 storm that did tremendous damage in Hampton Roads," McDonnell said.

    About 350,000 downed trees were reported in Richmond, along with 21,000 in northern Virginia. Power lines and tree are also down in the Washington, D.C., area.

    Click here to see the latest computer models tracked on our interactive radar map.

    Other developments:

    _ Two Virginia residents have died due to the hurricane so far, including an 11-year-old boy in Newport News, who was killed when a tree crashed through his apartment building. A third Virginia man died after a tree fell on his Chesterfield County house, but it is unknown if he was killed by the tree or if he died from another medical condition. Seven others have been killed in Florida and North Carolina.

    _ The heavy rain caused many creeks and streams to overflow, closing many area roads, including Sligo Creek Parkway, Beach Drive, Little Falls Parkway. Residents at Four Mile Run and Cameron Run should watch for high water.

    _ Even brief wind gusts can impact storm surge: Where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay, gusts up to 62 mph have sent Bay waters surging on to shore.

    _ Hurricanes often spawn tornadoes, and a tornado watch remains in effect for the lower portion of Maryland's Eastern Shore.

    _ In Annapolis, public transportation was suspended at 9 p.m. "No reason anybody should be on the road after 9," Mayor Josh Cohen said. But Cohen said he is not expecting the flooding Annapolis saw with Hurricane Isabel.

    _  While Dulles and Reagan National remain open, mass flight cancellations have slowed traffic considerably." "This is going to interrupt air travel for at least a day or two," said Courtney Mickalonis from the Metropolitan Airport Authority.  

    For information on how to prepare your family for a hurricane, visit Ready.gov, and see our hurricane preparedness tips here.

     

     


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