Sandy Smacks Region, But Nothing Like Points Up North

October 31, 2012 10:58 PM0 comments

The monstrous megastorm named Sandy that stretched over 1,000 miles and slammed with hurricane force winds directly into the nation’s northeastern seaboard this week knocked out power to over 8 million at its peak, and New York City and major portions of northern New Jersey remain crippled by its effect.

01FCNP110112FALLS CHURCH’S LINCOLN AVENUE was closed for over 24 hours this week as a huge tree felled by Superstorm Sandy crashed into the road and pulled power lines with it. It was the most dramatic result of the storm in the City, whose problems were dwarfed by the devastation the storm brought elsewhere throughout the nation’s northeastern corridor. (Photo: Simon Van Steyn)

The monstrous megastorm named Sandy that stretched over 1,000 miles and slammed with hurricane force winds directly into the nation’s northeastern seaboard this week knocked out power to over 8 million at its peak, and New York City and major portions of northern New Jersey remain crippled by its effect.

Impacts from the storm on the continental U.S. were felt from North Carolina to Maine, and penetrated in the form of heavy snowfall into the interior, blasting Ohio and West Virginia.

The effects of the storm remain far from over, with the 5 million daily passengers of the flooded New York subway system stranded, over 5 million without power who will remain so for up to a week, with contaminated water flooding streets and rodents pouring out of underground tunnels threatening public health.

Compared with all that, the impact of the storm on Northern Virginia and the wider Washington, D.C. region was far less severe, although over 200,000 homes in Virginia lost power in the first hours of the storm’s arrival Monday night.

In the City of Falls Church, as of 3 p.m. yesterday, only 66 of over 6,000 Dominion Power accounts were without electrical power, City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press. The City government and schools were fully up and running as of yesterday, recovering from two days of severe and dangerous weather than shut everything down.

Numbers from Fairfax County at of 10 a.m. yesterday morning, as reported by State Del. Kaye Kory, were 6,083 Dominion households and 286 NOVEC customers without power, down from over 200,000 outages on Tuesday. There were 52 roads closed, 13 traffic signals out, and 60 trees into homes.

cityeocAN EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER was set up at the Falls Church City Hall to respond to Superstorm Sandy, relying on backup generator power this week. (Photo: David Snyder)There were two roads closed in Falls Church as of late Tuesday – Lincoln Avenue and Irving Streets – but those were open as of yesterday, especially with the removal of a large tree that fell onto Lincoln Ave. Tuesday and pulled power lines down with it.

The City has waived fees for brush and branch pick ups through Nov. 7.

Shields also told the News-Press in two telephone interviews the last two days that electrical power to three pump stations (McLean, Chesterbrook and Willston) in the Falls Church water system were knocked out of power by the storm, but operated on backup generators, with all the tanks remaining at high levels and in full service.

Power to the three stations was restored about 9 p.m. Tuesday night, he said.

Remarkably, Shields said there were no reports of flooding or backflows into homes, even though about 7 inches of rain fell on the City.

Shields said that the rainfall fell over an extended period, limiting the potential for flooding.Compared to the “derecho” storm last May, he said, the damage has been comparatively minimal. “The ‘derecho’ was a very serious storm,” he added.

Status Update emails were frequently issued by Shields to members of the Falls Church City Council and key staff personnel.

Falls Church Vice Mayor David Snyder, who spent time in the City’s Emergency Operating Center during Sandy wrote the News-Press that he was “again impressed with the competence and dedication of our career and volunteer public officials,” although he was critical of Dominion Power’s response to some of the City’s most critical sites, including City Hall, the Community Center and three of its water pumping stations.

From the New York region, the News-Press received some first hand reports of the as yet still unfolding crisis. Falls Church native Miles Butler, now a student at Brooklyn College, wrote that while he lost power only briefly, a classmate in the Master of Fine Arts theater design program at the college was killed, along with a friend, while walking his dog, hit by a falling tree.

The development devastated everyone in the program, he said. Stuck inside their homes because of the storm, they had to mourn the deaths via the Internet. It ‘has shaken the entire theater department at B.C. Since it’s such a small, close-knit community,” he wrote.

Two News-Press contributors living in the area, freelance writer Lois Elfman and new News-Press columnist Johnny Weir, the Olympic figure skater, reported. Elfman said while she “was one of the lucky ones” with only a flicker of her of her lights, “I certainly heard the winds and saw the rain,” adding, “It’s a sickening scary feeling to see how many people I know in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were affected.”

Weir reported that he was completely without power in his northern New Jersey home and unable to send in his column, limited to communicating by text message.

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