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RICHMOND – Governor Northam and his senior staff participated this week in an exercise to test Virginia’s hurricane response, joining the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), 18 other state agencies and 39 localities in the simulation. The 2018 National Level Exercise tested how well local, state and federal agencies partner to address a natural disaster. The exercise also involved participants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington D.C. and several military branches, practicing how they would all work together to respond to a direct hurricane hit to the Chesapeake Bay.
In this exercise, held at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Richmond, more than 250 representatives from local, state and federal agencies practiced directing citizens to evacuate and managing the Commonwealth’s coordinated response to devastation caused by a direct hit from a fictional Category 4 hurricane. This was Virginia’s largest-ever emergency preparedness exercise.
“This is truly an impressive effort to ensure Virginia is ready to respond to a major natural disaster. I want to thank the Virginia Emergency Support Team, the 250 individuals working at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center for this exercise, and nearly 350 Virginians with local, state and nonprofit agencies who took part in this simulation to ensure we are ready for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Governor Northam. “Our administration is actively focused on making sure our Commonwealth remains resilient and prepared for the many threats we face. While government agencies are working to prepare for a major natural disaster, individuals, businesses and community organizations must also take the opportunity to prepare themselves as well.”
“Building safer and more resilient communities is a critical component to ensuring the Commonwealth’s increased readiness during hurricane season,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “National exercises such as these build interstate partnerships, while creating opportunities for collaboration on numerous other public safety and emergency preparedness efforts.”
The Governor and cabinet rehearsed how important evacuation decisions would be made in advance of landfall and how it will mobilize state agency resources to respond to a major natural disaster. State agency and local government participants tested activities related to pre-landfall preparedness and warning, emergency response and recovery, maintaining essential functions during a major disaster, and management of long-duration power outages and critical interdependencies.
Atlantic Hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through November 30. Forecasters are already predicting an active 2018 hurricane season. Virginians should prepare by purchasing flood insurance, developing a family communication plan and making an emergency kit. These actions can save your home, save you money by reducing potential damage to your home or business, and can even save your life or the lives of your loved ones. Residents of coastal Virginia should also understand the tiered evacuation plan that will be used by state and local emergency managers to move those most at risk from storm impacts to higher ground.
For more information on how to prepare your business, family and property against hurricane threats, visit www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes. To learn more about coastal Virginia’s tiered evacuation plan, and to learn which evacuation zone you are located in, visit www.KnowYourZoneVA.org.
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