Hurricane Florence Updates

9/14/18, 2:30 p.m.

City facilities to include the Suffolk Visitor Center, Tourism, Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, Suffolk Executive Airport, Parks & Recreation facilities, as well as the Suffolk Public Library will resume their normal operations at their regularly scheduled hours on Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Suffolk Transit will also resume their regularly scheduled operations on Saturday, September 15, 2018. 

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9/14/18, 12:50 p.m.

TFC Recycling, the City’s recycling provider, has announced that they are going to pick-up recycling that was originally scheduled for Friday, September 14th, on Monday, September 17, 2018. 

All other refuse collections remain as regularly scheduled.

9/14/18, 12 p.m.

The Suffolk Department of Emergency Management advises that the National Hurricane Center lifted the Tropical Storm Warning late this morning.

The threat of high winds and dangerous travel conditions in Coastal Virginia has passed so Governor Northam rescinded the mandatory evacuation order for Zone A at 10:45 a.m. today, Friday, September 14th.

As a result of this announcement, the King’s Fork High School emergency shelter will be closing effective 2:00 p.m. today. 

Further, the Emergency Operations Call Center has ceased phone operations effective at 11:30 a.m.  The Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number can be reached at 923-2350.

Additional information related to City Services will be sent in a separate release as determinations are made.  

9/14/18, 9:00 a.m.

The City of Suffolk remains under a Coastal Flood Warning at this time as advised in an update provided by the Department of Emergency Management at a briefing in the Emergency Operations Center this morning. 

Hurricane Florence is now a category 1 storm which is significantly impacting the North Carolina coast at this time. 

Wind gusts to 40 mph are still possible with sustained winds of 24 mph in some areas of our City with gusts trending downward and continuing to diminish overnight.

Rain forecasts are now trending downward from the 2” to 4” initially predicted to 1” to 4” in some areas. 

Tidal flooding will still impact the Kimberley Bridge and other areas typically affected throughout the City.   The next high tide will occur midday which could cause additional lane closures in that area.   

Crews responded last evening to remove a tree that was leaning across the 6-lanes and to remove a tree across the roadway at Carolina Road and Deer Forest Road. 

Suffolk Fire & Rescue crews also responded to a residence at Hawk Lane for a tree that had fallen and caused some damage to the roof, however, no one was displaced. 

The King’s Fork High School emergency shelter currently has 22 citizens that have sought shelter at that location.  The shelter will remain open until 2:00 p.m. today after which a determination will be made as it relates to the status of the shelter moving forward after an update from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The Army National Guard unit that was activated to assist in storm responses has been released from their assignment in Suffolk. 

Any citizens or businesses that experienced any damages as a result of the storm are asked to contact Planning & Community Development when City Offices reopen Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. 

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9/13/18, 7:50 p.m.

The City of Suffolk remains under a Coastal Flood Warning at this time.  The Emergency Operations Center opened at 6:00 p.m. this evening under limited activation joined by Mayor Linda Johnson.  City Departments provided status updates and reviewed the projected weather forecast for the rest of the weekend and any potential impacts for our City.  Public Works crews remain vigilant and stand ready to deploy as conditions warrant throughout this weather event.  

The Department of Emergency Management advised that sustained tropical storm force winds are not expected for our area, however, wind gusts up to 45 mph are possible from 2:00 a.m. Friday morning, September 14th, through sunrise Saturday morning, September 15th.  

The primary concern at this time is the potential for downed trees and power lines due to ground saturation from recent rains and anticipated additional rainfall from 2 to 4 inches.  Strike force teams including staff with chainsaws have been preliminarily staged to deal with any potential issues.  Further, the Army National Guard 2nd 183rd located in Suffolk has been activated to provide assistance if needed including three high water vehicles also equipped with chainsaws and tow straps.  
Citizens are reminded to exercise extreme caution if downed power lines are encountered, not to enter any standing bodies of water, and to call 911 to report any downed trees or power lines.  

The King’s Fork High School emergency shelter (351 Kings Fork Road) remains open as a shelter of last resort at this time due to Governor Northam’s earlier mandatory evacuation order for residents of Zone A, to include those in mobile homes or trailers.   The highest attendance amount since the facility opened Tuesday evening, September 12th, at 8:00 p.m. was 24 citizens.  

As indicated in a previous Media Release, the City of Suffolk Public Works Department will be picking up trash as scheduled on Friday, September 14th. TFC Recycling, the City’s recycling provider, will not be providing pick-up and this collection will not be rescheduled.

Suffolk Transit operated under its normal schedule today however, a determination was made to cease operations on Friday, September 14th.  A decision will be made at a later time related to Saturday operations.  

The Emergency Operations Call Center can be reached at 514-4570 and remains staffed for citizens seeking storm-related information for this weather event.  The Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number is 923-2350, and the number for non-emergency roadway-related issues is 514-7600.  

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9/13/18, 2:45 p.m.

The City of Suffolk Public Works Department will be picking up trash as scheduled on Friday, September 14th. TFC Recycling, the City’s recycling provider, will not be providing pick-up and this collection will not be rescheduled.

Suffolk Transit will continue operations today as scheduled.  A determination related to Friday and Saturday operations will be made moving forward.  Maps of all Routes, fares, schedules, and more is available for review at www.suffolktransit.org.  

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9/12/18, 3:20 p.m.

Due to the change in the track of Hurricane Florence and the downgrade of the impact to the City of Suffolk at this time, City Manager Patrick Roberts announced this afternoon that the King’s Fork High School emergency shelter, located at 351 Kings Fork Road, will open as originally planned this evening, Wednesday, September 12th, at 8:00 p.m., however, the Nansemond River High School emergency shelter will not be opening at this time unless there is a need based on the current weather forecast. 

We will make further determinations related to the status of emergency shelters moving forward on Thursday afternoon. 

Should citizens have questions as it relates to the emergency shelter or if they need to make accommodations for a pet since the King’s Fork High School emergency shelter is not pet-friendly, please contact the Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number at 923-2350.  As a reminder, there are no pet drop-offs permitted at emergency shelters, and citizens would need to remain at the shelter during the entire timeframe their pet is being accommodated. 

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9/12/18, 1:55 p.m.

The City of Suffolk Public Works Department will be picking up trash as scheduled on Thursday, September 13th. TFC Recycling, the City’s recycling provider, will also be operating as scheduled on Thursday, September 13th.

The status for trash collection for Friday, September 14th is still to be determined as we are awaiting information from SPSA regarding if their facility will be open.

No decision regarding recycling collection on Friday, September 14th has been made at this time.

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9/11/18, 4:50 p.m.

Due to the projected impacts of Hurricane Florence, Suffolk City Offices will be closed on Thursday, September 13th and Friday, September 14th.  Additionally, all City facilities will be closed through Sunday, September 16th, and all tours and scheduled special events have been cancelled in advance of the storm’s arrival.

Suffolk Public Schools has announced they will be closed for staff and students starting on Wednesday, September 12th through Friday, September 14th. As a result, all Suffolk Parks & Recreation before and after school programs are cancelled starting on Wednesday, September 12th.

City Treasurer Ron Williams’ United Way Golf Tournament scheduled for Friday, September 14th has been rescheduled for Friday, September 21st.

The Southeastern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s set for Saturday, September 15th at Constant’s Wharf Park has been postponed and will not be rescheduled, and they will be advising their Western Tidewater walkers to attend either the COVA Walk in Virginia Beach on September 22nd,  or the Peninsula Walk in Newport News on October 20th.

As noted in a previous release, City Manager Patrick Roberts declared a State of Emergency for the City of Suffolk effective at noon today.

The Emergency Operations Center, located at Suffolk Fire & Rescue Station 6 on Kings Fork Road, will be fully activated on Wednesday, September 12th at 8:00 p.m.  We have been operating under virtual activation for several days. 

The Emergency Operations Call Center can be reached at 514-4570 and is currently staffed 24-hours a day for citizens seeking storm-related information for this weather event.  The Suffolk Police Department non-emergency number is 923-2350, and the number for non-emergency roadway-related issues is 514-7600.

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9/11/18, 2 p.m.

Message from City Manager - Hurricane Florence Preparations

Citizens of Suffolk:

As you are aware, we are currently bracing for the impact of Hurricane Florence as our Department of Emergency Management advises that this dangerous large category 4 storm continues to track towards the Atlantic Coast.  Based on this forecast, I made the decision to declare a State of Emergency for the City of Suffolk effective at noon today.

City staff began advance preparations for the storm last week and efforts remain ongoing to ensure the safety of our citizens.  I would like to take this opportunity, however, to remind everyone that safety is a shared responsibility.  While we are making every possible effort to ensure the safe passage on our roadways, mitigate the amount of possible flooding, and make certain that our well-trained emergency first responders have all the necessary tools to perform their jobs – we know that there is much that is out of our control as it relates to potential storm damage and its impact to our City and citizens.

You’ve been advised, and I’ll certainly restate the fact that THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES AND YOUR PROPERTY IS NOW.  Make a Kit, Plan, and Stay Informed.  To learn more, visit our website at www.suffolkva.us/607/Emergency-Management .  We’ve added a PDF of the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide www.suffolkva.us/hurricanepreparednessguide in addition to links to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website so our citizens can be best informed due to potential issues with that state site being inundated with inquiries.  This guide includes all practical information for before, during, and after the storm and also includes designated Evacuation Routes and detailed information about “Know Your Zone”. If you are unsure of your zone, visit www.KnowYourZoneVA.org to learn more.  

It is important to note that the “Know Your Zone” campaign is applicable only to flooding associated with coastal flooding (tidal surge).  Flooding is typically defined as either coastal (storm surge), Fluvial (river flooding), and Pluvial (surface flooding).  Coastal flooding is typically the result of extreme tidal conditions caused by severe weather such as a hurricane or tropical storm.  Fluvial flooding is caused by excessive rainfall over an extended period of time causing a river to exceed its capacity.  Pluvial flooding, also referred to as urban flooding, is caused when rainfall creates a flood event independent of an overflowing body of water.  Therefore, it is possible that Suffolk may experience all three types of flooding in areas that are not addressed by the “Know Your Zone” campaign.  In other words, if you’ve experienced flooding at your location during previous weather events, the odds are that you will certainly be affected by this event and you should take the necessary precautions.  

In response to Governor  Ralph Northam’s issuance of mandatory evacuations for residents in Zone A and all mobile park homes in his press conference last evening, citizens are reminded to seek shelter first with friends or family nearby in Zone C or D.

In Suffolk, the Governor’s evacuation order for Zone A will impact 599 residential addresses, and 91 non-residential addresses.  As you look at the map of Suffolk’s zones, you will note that the majority of the City is not in one of the four zones (Zone A – medium blue,  Zone B – green, Zone C – gold, Zone D – pink).  

Zone A encompasses a considerable amount of marsh/wetlands immediately adjacent to the Chuckatuck Creek, the Nansemond River, Bennett’s Creek, the tributary located adjacent to the River Front and Arbor Meadows communities, Streeter Creek and the James River.

In response to the Governor’s current Zone A evacuation order and in anticipation of a possible Zone B order, two emergency shelters are being opened for our residents as a last resort effective at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12th:

•    King’s Fork High School, 351 Kings Ford Road (ADA compliant, fully generator powered for citizens who are medically dependent on electricity)

•    Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway (ADA compliant, pet-friendly, generator power for emergency lighting and to support the kitchen freezers only).

To reiterate, emergency shelters should be considered a means of last resort once all other safe options have been exhausted.  If you aren’t in an evacuation zone, you are not expected to need to evacuate, but it’s still important to prepare so that you can shelter in place.  

In closing, take all necessary steps to prepare for this emergency weather situation.  Once the storm hits, it’s too late.  Evacuate immediately if told to do so by authorities.  Stay tuned to local news to track the storm coverage and visit the City’s website and click on the Hurricane button at the top of the page for the most current information.  Alert family and friends of your situation and whereabouts.  Your safety is our top priority.

Patrick Roberts

City Manager

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9/10/18, 8:35 p.m.

GOVERNOR ISSUES EVACUATIONS IN ADVANCE OF HURRICANE FLORENCE IMPACT

Governor Ralph Northam issued mandatory evacuations for residents in Zone A and all mobile park homes in his press conference this evening.  Citizens are reminded to seek shelter first with friends or family nearby in Zone C or D. If you are unsure of your zone, visit www.KnowYourZoneVA.org to learn more.

If you must leave, it is recommended that you travel north.  As a last resort, the following emergency shelters in Suffolk will open at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12th:

•    King’s Fork High School, 351 Kings Fork Road (ADA compliant, fully generator powered for citizens who are medically dependent on electricity)  

•    Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway (ADA compliant, pet-friendly, generator power for emergency lighting and to support the kitchen freezers only).

The City of Suffolk utilizes several methods to keep our citizens informed in emergencies, including Suffolk On the Alert, a free emergency and non-emergency notification system that sends email updates on important information to residents.   To create a Suffolk on the Alert account, visit https://suffolk.onthealert.com.  You can also follow the City of Suffolk on Facebook @suffolkva and Twitter @CityofSuffolk for updates.

As previously noted, emergency shelters should be considered a means of last resort once all other safe options have been exhausted.

Important information regarding rules, what to bring, prohibited items and more are noted below:

Evacuation Shelter Rules

•    You must sign in before being officially admitted into any shelter

•    "Shelter hopping" is not permitted

•    You are responsible for your belongings. Valuables should always be locked in your car or kept with you. The shelter is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items

•    Parents are responsible for controlling the actions of and knowing the whereabouts of their children. Children should not be left unattended.

•    If you have a medical condition or are taking medications, please notify the shelter registrar for referral to the nurse.

•    Noise levels should be kept at a minimum during all hours of the day. Quiet hours are observed between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

•    Please do your best to keep the shelter as neat and orderly possible.

What to Bring to a Shelter

Be sure to bring enough supplies to last at least five days (increased from three days for this event) for each family member.

•    bottled water

•    manual can opener and cooler

•    portable flashlight and batteries

•    folding chairs

•    cot/sleeping bag/blanket and pillow

•    first aid kit and any medications

•    ID, car keys, credit cards and cash

•    photocopies of important papers (i.e. insurance policies)

•    canned/packaged food

•    disposable plates, cups, utensils, etc.

•    battery powered radio, TV

•    change of comfortable clothing and shoes

•    quiet games, toys, books, cards

•    toiletries, glasses/contacts, hearing aids and dentures

•    special-diet foods

•    baby supplies (i.e. food/formula, diapers, etc.)

Prohibited Items

•    alcohol, drugs, other illegal substances

•    pets (except assistance dogs)

•    loud radios or televisions

•    smoking, matches, lighters

•    weapons of any kind (guns, knives, chains, etc.)

When to consider going to a shelter

•    You live in an evacuation zone where there likely will be flooding

•    You live in a mobile home or trailer

•    You know your building is unsafe and you cannot repair it before the storm

•    You use life-support equipment that requires electricity

If none of these conditions apply to you, you should think about staying put and fortifying your home, something experts call "sheltering in place." However, if your house is not prepared and fortified or windows or doors are not properly covered, even the weaker winds at the perimeter of a hurricane can cause serious damage.

9/10/18, 7 p.m.

TAKE STEPS NOW TO MAKE EMERGENCY PLANS RELATED TO HURRICANE FLORENCE

The Suffolk Department of Emergency Management would like to remind all residents to take the appropriate steps now as it relates to emergency preparedness due to the threat of Hurricane Florence and its potential impact.  

Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency in Virginia.  All storm track models now agree that Virginia can expect significant impacts to include the possibilities of coastal storm surges, inland flooding, high winds and widespread power outages.  

City Manager Patrick Roberts met with Department Heads and Public Safety officials this afternoon related to local emergency measures now underway in order to ensure the safety of our citizens.  

Now is the time for our citizens to prepare—Make a Kit, Get and Plan, and Stay Informed. To learn more, visit www.VAEmergency.gov/hurricanes. While we are currently experiencing “blue skies”, the time to act is now as it relates to making sure you have your emergency kit prepared with sufficient supplies including food and water for each family member for at least five days; your vehicles are fueled and ready; secure loose, lightweight objects such as patio furniture, bicycles, and other items or bring these inside, and anchor items that would be unsafe if brought inside (gas grills, propane tanks, etc.); to trim or remove damaged trees and limbs close enough to fall on structures, and to secure loose gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.

We are closely monitoring the storm track and potential local impacts and will keep residents informed as it relates to potential openings of emergency shelters.  Additional information can be found on our website at http://www.suffolkva.us/614/Disaster-Shelters, including shelter locations, what to bring with you if you must seek a shelter, restrictions, etc.  

The Commonwealth of Virginia previously enacted the “Know Your Zone” evacuation initiative which provides residents clarity on whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home.  Information as to your designation based on your physical address can be obtained by visiting www.KnowYourZoneVA.org for a detailed, interactive, color-coded map showing each evacuation zone.