What We Do
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management works with local government, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations to provide resources and expertise through the four phases of emergency management.
Planning and training are key to effectively dealing with different types of disasters. VDEM develops and maintains state emergency plans as blueprints for response to a variety of scenarios and assists communities in developing localized emergency operations plans.
We also offer training courses in emergency management, hazardous materials response and search and rescue to prepare local responders to effectively deal with disasters and their aftermath. Exercises and drills conducted across the state offer opportunities to put these skills into practice in a controlled setting.
To assist citizens in minimizing their risks, VDEM works with the National Weather Service and local emergency managers to conduct intensive annual public awareness campaigns promoting tornado, hurricane and winter weather safety.
When citizens face an emergency situation, they call 911. When local governments need assistance in responding to a crisis, they call VDEM. The state expands staffing at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response efforts and provide status reports to the governor on existing conditions.
If warranted, the governor will declare a state of emergency. In a major disaster, the state will ask for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The president may issue a disaster declaration that clears the way for federal disaster assistance.
After disaster strikes, citizens are anxious to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible. Under a federal declaration, victims should call the FEMA at 1-800-462-9029 toll-free to register for disaster assistance. The TTY number for the speech or hearing impaired is 1-800-462-7585.
A number of basic state and federal financial aid programs may be available to displaced residents in these areas. VDEM staff works with FEMA to coordinate and administer these programs. In most instances, the federal government pays 75 percent of the cost, and the state and localities cover the 25 percent share.
Emergency management goes beyond helping communities recover from a disaster. Preventive measures now can help mitigate or lessen future losses. Many repairs can incorporate steps that will reduce or eliminate potential damage.
Elevation of structures in flood-prone areas and restricting beachfront development are just a few examples of loss prevention. For homeowners and businesses, flood insurance is an important protection against financial loss.
VDEM works with local jurisdictions to assist them in designing effective, long-range mitigation plans to address hazards specific to their communities.