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Watch: Gov. Northam declares State of Emergency ahead of Florence’s potential impact

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a State of Emergency ahead of what could be a week of watch-and-see for those living in North Carolina and Virginia.

“While the impacts of Tropical Storm Florence to Virginia are still uncertain, forecasts increasingly expect the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane that could seriously affect the East Coast and Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “Accordingly, I am declaring a state of emergency so that we can begin to prepare state assets, and I encourage Virginians to monitor forecasts and make their own preparations now.”

North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper also declared a State of Emergency for his state on Friday.

Florence, which is located 790 miles west of Bermuda, is moving at 6-mph west. The National Hurricane Center is expecting it to make a northwest turn toward the southeastern United States later this week and may develop into a hurricane by Monday.

Florence’s forecast cone now encompasses Hampton Roads and North Carolina.

Related: Sortie Condition Bravo ordered for Navy ships in Hampton Roads ahead of Florence

Below is the statement from Northam’s office:

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today in anticipation of the potential impact from Tropical Storm Florence. The order is designed to mobilize resources in preparations of the storm and to help Virginia mitigate any damage and to streamline the process that the Commonwealth uses to provide assistance to other states vulnerable to Florence.

“While the impacts of Tropical Storm Florence to Virginia are still uncertain, forecasts increasingly expect the storm to strengthen into a major hurricane that could seriously affect the East Coast and Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “Accordingly, I am declaring a state of emergency so that we can begin to prepare state assets, and I encourage Virginians to monitor forecasts and make their own preparations now.”

A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and pre-position people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery efforts.

While the track of Tropical Storm Florence is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia may see significant impacts from this storm next week. Impacts include possible flooding, high winds, and potential storm surge.

The Governor’s Office, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia State Police, and other state agencies have already begun preparations for the impacts of Tropical Storm Florence.

State agencies are working closely with localities to identify any needs in advance of the storm, and to pre-position resources where they will be most effective. The state Emergency Operations Center will be staffed next week in preparation for the storm and will transition into 24/7 operations as needed when the storm approaches.

Due to the uncertainty of the storm’s track this many days in advance, VDEM encourages all residents of Virginia to prepare for impacts from this storm. These can range from high winds and storm surge in coastal Virginia to significant flooding both along the coast and in rivers and streams in the western part of the state. Citizens should remember that flash floods could happen at any time and that flooding is the most deadly and damaging part of any hurricane.

Virginians should remember to “turn around and don’t drown.” Do not drive across any flooded roadway, as it only takes six inches of water to move a vehicle and roads may be washed out beneath the floodwaters.

In advance of the storm, assemble your emergency kit including food, water, medications, pet supplies and important documents that you will need to take with you if asked to evacuate in short order. To learn more about what to include in your emergency kit and how to prepare for hurricanes, visit www.VAemergency.gov/hurricanes.

It is also important for residents of Coastal Virginia to “Know Your Zone” before this storm impacts Virginia. If you live in Hampton Roads, the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck or Eastern Shore, learn which new hurricane evacuation zone you live in by visiting www.KnowYourZoneVA.org.

Stay tuned to local media in the coming days to keep close tabs on Hurricane Florence as it approaches the Commonwealth. Be prepared to take action, and know that storm forecast can vary significantly over just a few hours.

*If the above link doesn’t work, click here to find out which zone you live in.