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Governor declares a state of emergency after severe weather kills 5 in Virginia

National Weather Service to assess hard hit regions

April 17, 2011|WDBJ Web Staff

Saturday's tornadoes and flash flooding have killed at least 5 people in Virginia.  

Crews are continuing to assess damage from the storms across the state.

In the wake of the severe weather, Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency.  

 “Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the storms and flooding in the Commonwealth.  I have declared a state of emergency to direct all possible resources towards responding to this event," says McDonnell.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesman Bob Spieldenner says three- people died in Gloucester County alone, where a tornado cut through 12 miles of land.

The National Weather Service adds that at least one tornado touched down Saturday in Dinwiddie County.

Meanwhile, flash flooding killed a young child and another person in Waynesboro and prompted other water rescues.

We will have more on Saturday's tornadoes coming up Sunday night on News 7 at 6 and 11, and check back here for more updates.

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GOVERNOR'S PRESS RELEASE:

Governor McDonnell Declares State of Emergency after Severe Weather

~Governor Issues Official Statement~

Governor to Pulaski Today and Gloucester Today or Tomorrow; Administration Officials in Gloucester, Halifax and Surry Today 

 

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell has declared a state of emergency in response to yesterday’s severe weather across the Commonwealth, authorizing state agencies to assist local efforts in response and recovery efforts.

            Speaking on the recent severe weather, Governor McDonnell remarked, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the storms and flooding in the Commonwealth.  I have declared a state of emergency to direct all possible resources towards responding to this event.  Administration officials are traveling today to areas of impact to assess damage and assist local recovery efforts.  In the days after the tornados in Pulaski, we saw hundreds of Virginians come together to aid their fellow citizens who were impacted by the tragedy in the region.  I want to thank the brave first responders and state and local officials who have moved swiftly to begin the recovery process following these most recent events.” 

Governor McDonnell will be traveling to Gloucester County today or tomorrow to tour the storm damage and meet with residents, local officials and first responders.  Details on the Governor’s visit to Gloucester will be released later today. 

A state of emergency is declared under state law so that state resources can be made available. The Governor’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local initial recovery efforts. A declaration also decreases time and paperwork needed to get personnel, equipment and supplies on scene.

A series of severe storms produced high winds, flash flooding, power outages, structural damage, and a mudslide in southwestern Virginia. State agencies are assisting by:

•           The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing.

•           Regional emergency coordinators with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management are on scene coordinating with local responders and emergency managers.

•           Virginia State Police are assisting motorists and responding to traffic accidents.

•           Virginia Department of Transportation crews are working to clear debris and ensure roads are safe for travel.

•           VDEM staff are assisting with public information.

Significant damage has been reported in several areas:

•           A mudslide was reported in Carroll County. 

•           Wind damage, including structure damage, downed trees and power outages have been reported in Dinwiddie, Gloucester, Halifax, Isle of Wight, James City, Lunenburg , Middlesex, Surry and Rockbridge counties.  The National Weather Service is investigating damage in order to confirm tornadoes.

•           Waynesboro City and Albemarle, Bath, Page and Warren counties reported flash flooding.

Reported deaths include one in Page County, two in Waynesboro and three in Gloucester.  None have been confirmed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as weather related.

Though much of the flash floods and stream flooding reported yesterday have receded, runoff is expected to create river flooding over the next 48 hours.  Flooding is already occurring in Lexington along the Maury River and in Lynnwood along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.  River flooding is ongoing and will be moderate to major on the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River.  Flooding is forecast in and around the Rappahannock and Shenandoah rivers this afternoon. 

For information on preparing for severe weather in Virginia, go to www.vaemergency.com and www.ReadyVirginia.gov

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