(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia activated its emergency operations center (EOC) at noon today in preparation for Tropical Storm Hanna. The National Weather Service reports the storm is expected to reach the District in the early morning hours on Saturday with the heaviest rainfall Saturday afternoon. A total of four to eight inches is expected with winds of 30 miles per hour and gusts of 40 to 45 miles per hour.
Representatives from city and federal agencies, WMATA, Pepco, WASA, the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area, the Consortium of Universities, the DC National Guard and other emergency response partners are monitoring the storm from the EOC.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) is distributing sandbags to residents who experience flooding during heavy rains. Sandbag distribution is taking place at 1241 W Street, NE, from 12 noon to 9 pm today and from 7 am to 7 pm tomorrow. There is a limit of five sandbags per household and persons picking up the bags must present a DC drivers license or non-driver identification card.
Residents with Saturday DPW trash and recycling collections should have their trash and recycling containers out for collection no later than 6 a.m., Saturday. Since wind gusts are predicted to reach 40 to 45 mph, residents are asked to bring their empty containers in once the collection is made to reduce the chance they will blow away. This week collections are being made on Saturday because Labor Day was celebrated Monday and collections were pushed back one day.
Vehicles that impede DPW or District Department of Transportation (DDOT) crews from removing downed trees or debris that blocks streets will be relocated. Registered owners will not be fined if their vehicle is relocated under these circumstances; however, parking regulations will be enforced for illegally parked vehicles. Drivers who suspect their vehicle has been towed or to confirm the location of a vehicle, should call 311 or go to www.dpw.dc.gov, click on “Parking Enforcement Services” then “Towing and Impoundment” to use DPW's online Towed Vehicle Locator. They also can contact the District’s Towing Control Dispatch Center at 202.576.6071. Please note that this number does not accept messages.
Staff from the city’s Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) has spent the past few days inspecting and replenishing supplies including chainsaws, oil, bars, contractors, chains and log trucks in anticipation of downed trees as a result of the storm. Once the storm has ended work will begin to clear trees and other debris. Citizens should call 311 to report downed trees and be sure to include their name, telephone number, email address and the exact address of the incident. Trees are removed from roads first, followed by trees on houses and then those that have fallen on sidewalks. Removal of trees that have fallen near or on power lines requires coordination with Pepco. Citizens should note that it can take up to three to four weeks to get all debris and limbs cleared from public space.
The city’s Department of Transportation has pre-positioned portable stop signs, generators and trailers at several locations around the city for use in the event of a power outage, and traffic control officers are on stand-by to direct traffic if needed.
The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has swift water and flood rescue teams ready to respond if necessary and has inventoried and checked generators and other equipment.
The city’s Department of Human Services, in partnership with the American Red Cross, is prepared to operate shelters should it become necessary to evacuate citizens from their homes.
The Department of Health is contacting health care facilities to determine their vulnerabilities to high winds and possible flooding and has its volunteer emergency medical corps on stand-by.
Volunteers from Serve DC, the Mayor’s Office of Volunteer Service, also are on standby.
The city also has coordinated with WASA to ensure that catch basins and drains at areas of repetitive flooding have been checked and cleared.
DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Darrell Darnell is urging citizens to clear gutters, drains and downspouts and remove or secure any loose objects such as lawn furniture or barbecue grills from their yards, as they may become projectiles during high winds. They should also be certain they have a battery-powered radio, flash light and extra batteries.
Citizens also are reminded they should not try to drive or walk through standing water and should stay away from all downed utility lines, regardless of the service type; never assume the lines are non-energized.
For more information about preparing for emergencies of all kinds, visit 72hours.dc.gov .