Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Unusually hot and humid, followed by torrential downpours. It must be summer in the Washington region. Monday’s fierce storms overwhelmed area drainage systems, and forced multiple water rescues of drivers who got caught in deep rushing water. People were rescued; their vehicles didn’t fare as well. Natural stormwater drainage, like creeks, rivers, and floodplains, responded as “designed,” by overflowing channels and spreading out across the land (and roads as well). Constructed stormwater conveyances – concrete culverts, flumes and the like – are engineered to move stormwater into natural channels as quickly as possible, but no amount of engineering could have addressed the four to five inches of water that fell in barely an hour on Monday. A former Fairfax County public works director once told me that there is not enough money, time, engineers, or even concrete, to build a stormwater infrastructure to address storms like those experienced in this region on Monday.

As this area experiences more frequent, more intense summertime storms, some of the same precautions for winter snows are worth remembering. Be sure to have enough fuel in your vehicle; you might be stuck for awhile in traffic, or waiting out the storm in unfamiliar territory. Power up your cell phone, and keep a charger in your vehicle. Know your workarounds on local streets. A detour or re-route may take longer, but taking a few extra minutes might save your life. Pay special attention to low-lying areas. That meandering stream can become a torrent in a matter of minutes. My usual route to work flooded on Monday, made impassable when Turkeycock Run burst out of its culvert. Flooding may last only a short time, but if you are caught in that flood, the damage can last a lot longer.

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Gang prevention and intervention continue to be a focus in Fairfax County, with additional funding in support of Board-adopted comprehensive gang prevention and intervention strategies. Recent reports of suspected gang-related shootings in the Mount Vernon District are being investigated by the police, but intervention strategies incorporate the non-profit sector, schools, and targeted community outreach. The Intervention, Prevention, and Education Program (IPE), implemented by Northern Virginia Family Services (NVFS), focuses on youth at risk for gang involvement, youth who already are gang-involved, and youth who have been victimized by gangs. Doubling the number of outreach workers serving Fairfax County has eliminated the waitlist for services, meaning that youth who need help can get it.

The Violence Prevention and Intervention Program (VPIP), also implemented by NVFS, provides services for youth who have witnessed violence or experienced trauma. VPIP is focused on Herndon, Annandale, and the Bailey’s Crossroads/Culmore communities. In FY2019, VPIP provides intensive services to 116 individuals, and group-based service to 321 individuals. In Fairfax County Public Schools, part-time parent liaison hours in targeted schools have been increased, and gang prevention/education presentations are included in outreach activities in five school pyramids and at community events. Fairfax County and its community partners remain committed to efforts to reduce the threat of gang activity in our neighborhoods. Despite a recent uptick in violent gang-related crime in the Washington Metropolitan area, Fairfax County remains the safest community of its size in the nation.

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