By the time you read this, Hurricane Florence may be in full fury, or may have missed our region entirely. Nonetheless, preparations for emergencies are never out of season, and most are fairly simple. Fueling up your vehicle in advance of the storm is advisable. Gas pumps and credit cards won’t work in a power outage. Charge up your phone and other small electronics, and make sure you have fresh batteries for flashlights and other cordless items. If you can, clean out roof gutters, to ensure that rainwater flows smoothly off your roof. It’s amazing how much “junk” collects in the gutters, even before the autumn leaves fall.
Other tips, from constituents who suffered storm losses: unplug (not just turn off, but unplug) computers, large flat screen televisions, and other expensive electronics, if a storm is coming. A nearby lightning strike can take out anything connected to the grid. The device might have no outward marks, but the electronics may be fried, and irreparable. If you are driving, and you see water across the road, turn around; don’t drown. Just a few inches of water across a roadway can lift your tires, and float your vehicle, making it uncontrollable. It’s been almost 30 years, but I still remember that frightening feeling when the back tires of our car started floating as we attempted to cross a flooded bridge in our neighborhood. Fortunately, someone called the Fire Department, which sent an engine, and crew, to help us out of the flooded vehicle via rope lines. An embarrassing experience, to be sure, but a sobering lesson, too.
Much more information about emergency preparedness can be found on line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency. Remember that, depending on the severity of a storm or other disaster, emergency personnel may not be able to respond immediately, or even for a day or two. Residents may be on their own for awhile, which is why taking appropriate preparedness measures in advance, is wise. Network with neighbors; find out who has medical skills, or working generators, or tools you might need in an emergency. Check on elderly neighbors, especially if they live alone, or have medical needs. While we hope storm damage is light or non-existent, storms often bring neighbors together in a positive fashion, reinforcing that we have great neighborhoods and generous neighbors in Fairfax County, regardless of the situation.
It is stunning to realize that the September 11 attacks occurred 17 years ago! In my column on the first anniversary of the attacks, I asked “What have we learned since September 11? Are we more divided, or have the attacks had the opposite effect, bringing us together? Have our daily lives changed?” For a time, it seemed that the attacks brought us together, and rebuilding trust was happening. Sadly, the Trump administration revels in division, not diversity, as it attempts to widen the chasm between communities and nations. That shouldn’t happen in Fairfax County. With our “One Fairfax” policy, we will be an example to other jurisdictions that leadership, understanding, and a lot of hard work make our community one of which everyone can be proud.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.