Commonwealth Responding to Severe Weather

March 5, 2015  //  

VDEM Press Release

10501 Trade Court
Richmond, Virginia 23226


Mar. 5, 2015

CONTACT: Dawn Eischen
(804)  897-6510 or (804) 674-2400

Commonwealth Responding to Severe Weather

Flooding continues in southwest Virginia as sleet & snow impacts much of the state

RICHMOND, Va. – Excessive snow and ice melt from winter storms over the past two weeks combined with rainfall from last night and today, has resulted in flooding in parts of southwest Virginia. Additionally, the winter storm moving through the commonwealth into tonight is expected to bring sleet and snow, causing slick driving conditions and potential travel disruptions. State resources have been activated to assist local governments and citizens impacted by flooding and snow emergencies.
“With two different severe weather events occurring simultaneously across the state, we’ve pre-staged state resources to provide immediate support as needed,” said State Coordinator Jeff Stern. “Additional snow melt these next several days could cause additional flooding. Please stay informed, check road conditions before heading out and be prepared to seek higher ground should your area experience flooding.”

State agency storm response efforts:

  • The Virginia National Guard has 70 soldiers staged and ready at facilities in northern Virginia, southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley for possible response operations due to heavy snow and flooding. Expected missions for the Guard in these locations include using Humvees and light/medium tactical vehicles to provide transportation to reach areas where heavy snow or high water has blocked roads.
  • Virginia State Police has deployed swift water rescue teams in southwest Virginia to aid individuals affected by rising flood waters. Additional troopers will be called to duty to expedite response times to traffic crashes, disabled vehicles and other emergency calls for service.
  • Several roads are closed in the Bristol, Salem and Staunton areas due to flooding. Some areas received more than two inches of rain. The Virginia Department of Transportation is working aggressively to get bare pavement on interstates and primaries today and one push in all secondary roads before this evening. Motorists should avoid driving today to give VDOT crews a chance to clear primary and secondary roadways.

The State of Emergency issued by Governor McAuliffe Feb. 16 remains in effect for winter storm and flooding response. This declaration authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.

Drive safely

  • Know the road conditions before you travel. Go to or dial 511 from any phone for real-time traffic information and road condition reports.
  • Keep these road conditions descriptions in mind throughout the winter storm:
    • Severe – Drifting snow or partially blocked road. Snow tires or chains are necessary.
    • Moderate – Snow or ice on major portions of the road. Snow tires or chains advised.
    • Minor – Bare pavement except for isolated spots of snow, ice or slush. Driving with caution is recommended.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground, if possible.
  • Flood water might cut off access to roads. Be prepared to stay where you are until floodwaters recede.

Prepare for flooding

  • Know the weather terms and what you should do:
  • Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: There is an increased possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will likely occur very soon. If emergency officials advise you to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately – don’t wait for official instructions.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Don’t return to your home until local officials say it is safe. After floodwaters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse. Buildings might be unstable, and drinking water might be contaminated.
  • Use common sense and look for information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Look for areas where the water is not moving. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
  • More flood preparedness information is available at

Food safety after flooding

  • Do not eat any foods that may have come into contact with flood water.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Food in the refrigerator will stay cold for about four hours if the doors remain unopened. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half full), if the door remains closed.
  • Throw out any perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers that have been above 40 degrees for more than four hours. Frozen foods are safe to use as long as they remain frozen.
  • Digital, dial or instant-read food thermometers and appliance thermometers will help you know if your food is at safe temperatures. When the power is out, an appliance thermometer will always show the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer.
  •  If you’re not sure a particular food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. If in doubt, throw it out!


Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund