This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 29.
With heavy rains and high winds expected for much of Monday and Tuesday as a result of Hurricane Sandy, most activities in the county are shut down.
Weather and government officials continue to urge residents to take the storm seriously and exercise caution. The National Weather Service is predicting hurricane-force winds and flood-producing rainfall throughout the region through the early morning hours Wednesday.
“This is an unprecedented storm,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova in a YouTube video posted to the county’s website. “Make sure that you are looking out for your safety.”
There will be 5 to 10 inches of rain coupled with sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts as high as 70 or 80 mph, according to the latest National Weather Service predictions. The Potomac River is expected to reach flood stage Wednesday, lasting through Friday.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and President Barack Obama also held press briefings Tuesday afternoon to urge residents to take warnings seriously and obey evacuation and other local orders.
“The best thing that can happen is that our citizens use common sense,” McDonnell said. “Heed the warnings of your state and local government officials.”
State and local officials have everything in place to respond to the storm, McDonnell said, including plow equipment to contend with the heavy snowfall expected in western sections of the state.
Both Obama and McDonnell emphasized that people in the storm’s path should be prepared for long-running power outages. Dominion Virginia Power is reporting about 6,000 outages statewide.
“For now we’re holding our own, but we expect the weather to become a challenge to that fact,” said Rodney Blevins, Dominion’s vice president of distribution operations.
Dominion has about 5,500 personnel in the field, including help from other states, and is still working to bring in additional help, Blevins said. However, he also warned customers that it may take some time to restore power.
“Strong winds may make working conditions too risky to proceed while the storm lingers,” Blevins said. "The safety of everyone is paramount. This means it may take longer to respond to some outages."
Dominion customers can call toll free 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) in the event of outages or downed lines, or report an outage through the company's mobile website at www.dom.com. NOVEC customers should call 703-335-0500 (toll-free 1-888-335-0500) to report outages, or log in to their online account.
Fairfax County police urge residents to stay in their homes and have warned residents of the low-lying Huntington community to move their cars to higher ground. Police distributed flyers in the neighborhood this weekend and say residents can park vehicles at many higher-ground county locations including libraries and other county-owned sites.
Capt. Randy Joyce, commander of the county's Mount Vernon Police District, said that police will continue to keep close watch on the neighborhood.
"We will have officers in the area throughout their shift monitoring just the neighborhood and the floods," he said.
Additional Virginia State Police troopers have been deployed throughout the state to respond to various weather conditions spawning from Hurricane Sandy across the commonwealth. From 10 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday, troopers had already responded to 411 traffic crashes statewide.
“At this time, there have been no reported traffic deaths in the state related to the storm,” said spokesperson Corrine Geller.
All non-emergency functions of Fairfax County government and all county courts are closed today in anticipation of the severe weather. City and town governments have also closed. In-person absentee voting was cancelled for Monday.
Fairfax County Public Schools announced Sunday at 2 p.m. that no classes or after school activities would be held on Monday or Tuesday. School employees were told offices would be closed on Monday, and possibly reopened Tuesday.
Similarly, George Mason University canceled classes Monday through Tuesday at noon. University officials said a decision on classes scheduled Tuesday afternoon would be made by 8 a.m. that day. For those living on campus, the University Police emergency line is 911, or alternatively students can call 703-993-2810. Updates for GMU faculty, students and staff are being posted on www.GMU.edu.
Northern Virginia Community College canceled Monday classes but has not issued word on Tuesday classes as of yet. The college is also posting updates on its website www.NVCC.edu
All Metro rail and bus service was canceled Monday and the Virginia Department of Transportation is urging drivers to stay off the road if possible. VDOT crews are working in 12-hour shifts to monitor area roadways throughout the storm.
Many area businesses also closed all day or announced plans to close early on Monday, including Fair Oaks Mall, which closed at noon. Call ahead before heading out to local businesses.
The Amphora Diner in Vienna, however, remains open for business. The 24-hour diner has remained open for decades and has so far never closed due to a weather event.
“As long as we have power, we will be serving customers,” said General Manager Najib Sayed.
Virginia Task Force One (VATF-1), Fairfax County’s urban search and rescue team, was activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Sunday afternoon and deployed to VATF-1 has now been deployed to Fort Dix, New Jersey on Monday.
VATF-1 consists of firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue specialists, structural engineers, physicians, hazardous materials specialists, planning and logistical staff, and canines and handlers. In addition to its regular complement of equipment, the team will also deploy with two inflatable boats and water rescue specialists. The team is self-contained and is capable of deploying for up to 14 days without resupply or additional support.
To stay up-to-date with Fairfax County emergency information, follow the county’s emergency blog at fairfaxcountyemergency.wordpress.com or call the emergency information hotline at 571-350-1300.