Hurricane Matthew expected to impact Williamsburg area

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Emergency officials and residents are keeping their eyes glued to the Caribbean as Hurricane Matthew continues its slow trek toward the East Coast.

Rain and heavy winds from the category four hurricane are expected lash large portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Peninsula this weekend.

Just how bad the storm's impact will be is expected to become clearer in the next few days.

In a briefing Tuesday, the National Weather Service predicted Hampton Roads could get 4-8 inches of rain this weekend. Prior rainfall in the area and saturated soil, coupled with the storm's sustained winds, could flood low-lying areas and topple trees.

Calling the possible impact "moderate to significant," the service predicts that the nastiest weather could start Friday and stay through Sunday.

York County Fire Chief Steve Kopczynski said his staff has been communicating with the state and other emergency officials in preparation.

"We've been constantly monitoring the situation," he said. "We'll make a determination as to whether or not we'll need to do that."

An emergency, Kopczynski said, would be a situation where the county has to do much more than usual or request help and resources from other parts of the area.

James City County emergency management coordinator Kathleen Hale shed a light on what James City County considers when the county declares an emergency.

"When the county manager declares an emergency, that's done under law to give him the power to use funds and utilize resources," Hale said.

A native of Miami, Hale was in south Florida when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. She's seen quite a few tropical storms and hurricanes during her time there and in Virginia.

"Mother Nature gives us a chance to re-evaluate our policies every few years," she said.

Food, water

Virginia's Department of Emergency Management suggests families prepare three days worth of food for each person.

Food that does not need to be refrigerated or microwaved is best. Peanut butter, granola bars and other healthy foods that provide energy are good choices. Salty foods are not, since they will make you thirsty. Three gallons of water per person in a family are recommended.

Pets need three days of food and water, familiar toys, bowls and a collar with the owner's information in case they get separated.

Shelter

If need be, Williamsburg residents and city staff can take shelter at the Quarterpath Recreation Center, at 202 Quarterpath Road.

The city has a list of items to bring for a short stay, including a change of clothes, food, sleeping bag and more on its website, at williamsburgva.gov/emergency.

James City County urges residents to stock up early, although officials acknowledge the county's distance from the coast makes it unlikely that residents ill need to evacuate because of rising flood waters.

When preparing for Hurricane Joaquin last October, the designated shelters in the county were the James City County Recreation Center, Stonehouse Elementary and James River Elementary.

York County does not decide its shelters ahead of time, and once they do, they distribute information to local media, according to county emergency officials.

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345 2343.

Contant information

Here's are some numbers you may need during an emergency:

Emergency Operations Center, City of Williamsburg: 757-259-7200

York County Fire and Life Safety: 757-890-3621

James City County Emergency Management: 757-564-2140

Williamsburg police, non-emergency: 757-220-2331

James City County Police, non-emergency: 757-253-1800

York County Police, non-emergency: 757-890-3630

The Virginia Gazette will provide updates on the hurricane as more information comes later this week.

Listen into WMBG 740 AM, TIDE 92.3 FM or WBACH 107.9 FM for the most important radio information.

For immediate emergency updates from the city, sign up at williamsburgva.gov/alerts; in James City County, residents can sign up at

www.jccalert.org

; in York County, residents can sign up at www.yorkcounty.gov/readyyorkcounty

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