Gov. Bob McDonnell said in his final press briefing for Hurricane Sandy that Virginia was "spared a significant event."
“First responders and private partners, they have really done an amazing job preparing for the storm and applying lessons learned from previous storms and putting in an incredible amount of hours,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell cited concerns about rivers cresting as flood waters go into the major arteries, and he expected an update on that later Tuesday.
Virginia was awarded a federal disaster declaration yesterday, said McDonnell, noting he was “delighted” that President Barack Obama and FEMA were on it immediately.
"That is only for federal direct assistance to allow them to provide resources directly and as we do our damage assessment, we will likely be applying for the full public assistance declaration to reimburse the state for its expenses," McDonnell said.
McDonnell said there were two storm-related fatalities in central Virginia. The governor said it would be likely days until a full report is released on the extent of the damages in the state.
Communication and 911 systems held, McDonnell said.
“We don’t foresee any reason for the state government to be closed tomorrow,” said McDonnell, although a full update will be available Tuesday afternoon. “We anticipate state government will be fully operational.”
Extending Permit Deadlines
“Because it is the 30th of the month, there are many people that have deadlines for state government permits or licenses or certificates that would occur by tomorrow," McDonnell said. "In an executive order I am extending all of those deadlines until Nov. 9."
Examples include people at the Department of Motor Vehicles that had an operator's permit or license or state inspection that was set to expire at the end of October. That deadline will be extended, McDonnell said.
Treat Dark Traffic Signals as Four-way Stops
Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner of Highways Greg Whirley said 100 traffic signals are without power in Northern Virginia and to treat those as a four-way stops.
"Do not try to move trees in the road. We are working with the power company to remove those trees quickly," Whirley said. "Call 1-800-FOR-ROAD to report any dangerous situation we will take care of it."
Whirley said there are 1,000 crew members and contractors working to clear the roads. Whirley said they would be "relentless" in their focus.
“Don’t do anything that doesn’t have to be done. If you have to work with chainsaws, do it very carefully,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. ”Be aware of your situation and watch your neighbors.”
Dominion: Power to Be Restored to All by Thursday
“It is our intention to have all our customers restored to service by Thursday night,” said Rodney Blevins, vice president of distribution operations for Dominion. Northern Virginia sustained the most damage, Blevins said.
In Northern Virgina, where the bulk of Dominion’s efforts are being focused, 92,000 customers are without power as of 1:33 p.m., Blevins said.
Blevins said to continue to report 1-866-DOM-HELP for downed lines or power outages.
At its peak, 200,000 were customers without power, McDonnell said.
"The lionshare of that was in Northern Virginia," McDonnell said.
Election Day Unaffected
"I don't want anything to interrupt full participation in democracy as we head into this presidential election," McDonnell said.
"Right now, our assessment is that there are nine registrars offices without power," McDonnell said. "Our friends from the power companies have made that a top priority after hospitals and nursing homes and so forth to restore their power. We anticipate all those will be back within a day or two."
McDonnell said he did not believe there will be any problem at any voting location next Tuesday as a result of the storm.
"We are issuing a letter today to all the voting registrar's offices around the state asking them to stay open for up to eight additional hours to be able to make up for the time that a citizen may not have had to vote absentee over the last two days," McDonnell said. "Those requests have gone out today."
McDonnell said the request that does not change the rules about who is qualified to vote absentee.
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