Derecho (day-RAY-cho) The storm struck Fairfax County overnight Friday, June 29, into the early morning hours Saturday, June 30. A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term &quot;straight-line wind damage&quot; sometimes is used to describe derecho damage. Source: National Weather Service Picture from the Dranesville/Great Falls area.
On Friday, June 29, at approximately 10 p.m., a severe thunderstorm (derecho) hit Fairfax County. Within one hour the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated at a monitoring level. At 4 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, the EOC was deactivated since there were no indications of massive phone or massive power outage; all public safety and VDOT needs had been met and Dominion Virginia Power was reporting approximately 20,000 meters out of service at the time. the EOC was re-activated at 9:30 a.m. Almost all communications were affected, including 9-1-1 service. The media was notified about the issues with 9-1-1 service and to direct all emergencies to public safety stations. Power outages were over 230,000.
Significant increase in calls to 9-1-1 Friday night into early Saturday morning (10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.): - 312% increase in total calls received during this 3 ½ hour period compared to the same time period the previous week.
Once daylight arrived and damage began being reported, the EOC was re-activated at 9:30 a.m. Almost all communications were affected, including 9-1-1 service. The media was notified about the issues with 9-1-1 service and they helped get the word to the public to direct all emergencies to public safety stations. Power outages were over 230,000 across the county or approximately 61 percent of the county’s meters.
420,667 meters – Over 232,000 meters out in Fairfax County – approximately 55% of meters in Fairfax County. Meters can be a single-family house, apartment or condominium – so the number of meters is less than the number of people affected by the power outage.
On Saturday, June 30: over 50 Fairfax County Public School sites were without power over 120 traffic intersections were without power; Over 40 percent of fire stations were operating on emergency generator power and 50% had no land-line phone service.
The County has 63 wastewater pumping stations. Of these, 40 stations lost power on June 29. All pump stations continued to operate during the power outage under emergency backup generator and were monitored on 12 hours shifts by wastewater staff. The pumping stations have multiple pumps within each station, anywhere from 2-4 actual pumps per station. If the power is out, all pumps shut off until the diesel generator (at each station) kicks in and pumping resumes. All 63 wastewater pumping stations lost SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system communications during this storm, which is how County personnel can remotely monitor the wastewater pumping station operations.
During the height of the storm the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department had deployed approximately 78 percent of its resources.
Fire and Rescue units checked the status of critical infrastructure to include assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and Fire and Rescue department facilities. Windshield Surveys and more in-depth neighborhood surveys were also conducted.
Volunteer Fairfax representatives in the EOC made phone calls to everyone registered on the County’s special medical needs registry to see if any access or functional needs were identified; calls were started on Saturday, June 30, and continued daily through Tuesday, July 3. 161 registrants were called over three days: 33 on day 1 (Monday) 118 on day 2 (Tuesday night) Remaining 10 on Wednesday morning Contact included direct connection or leaving messages on answering machines (an indication that power and phone services had been restored).
During extremely hot days, especially when coupled with the lack of electricity and air conditioning, we always recommend that residents visit a local library, take in a movie, stroll through a shopping center, or visit a community recreation center or senior center that is air-conditioned since resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses. All County facilities that had electricity were open normal hours and available as cooling opportunities for residents and visitors. Because of the widespread power outage, many County facilities unfortunately were without electricity during the early stages of the event. The County published flyers about the facilities that were open over the weekend and offering heat relief options. These flyers were distributed to the police and fire stations to give to residents showing up at these facilities, as well as published online, through social media and promoted to the media. Fairfax County Animal Control was also on stand-by for calls from County facilities if residents came to those facilities with their pets; Animal Control was staffed to take those pets to the animal shelter for heat relief.
On Saturday, June 30, at 11 a.m., both a local emergency declaration and a Virginia state of emergency were declared. Governor Robert (Bob) F. McDonnell and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova attended an operational briefing in the EOC. Also attending was the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, Marla Decker and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, William A. Hazel Jr., MD.
Following the briefing, the Governor and Chairman conducted a media briefing in the lobby of the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC) facility to get the word to the media, for distribution to the public, about the situation.
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)
Flat fee for debris drop-off continues.
Derecho Storm Response
Friday, June 29 Approximately 10 p.m., a severe thunderstorm (derecho) hit Fairfax County. Within 30 minutes the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated at a monitoring level.
Saturday, June 30 At 4 a.m. the EOC was deactivated; all public safety and VDOT needs had been met and Dominion Virginia Power was reporting approximately 20,000 meters out of service. The EOC was re-activated at 9:30 a.m.
EOC Operational Hours The EOC was staffed 24/7 Saturday, June 30, through 8 p.m. Monday, July 2. – 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 3. – 11 a.m. to midnight, Wednesday, July 4 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, July 5 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, July 6. – OEM duty officer monitored the event during the overnight hours maintaining situational awareness.
Derecho Storm Response Power Outages in Fairfax County Dominion Va. Power - 394,361 meters. NOVEC - 26,306 meters. Saturday, June 30, 2 p.m.: – 229,000 Dominion Virginia Power meters without power. – 3,263 NOVEC meters without power.
Saturday, June 30 No 9-1-1 phone service, limited communication ability. 120+ traffic intersections without power. Over 40 percent of fire stations were operating on emergency generator power and 50% had no land-line phone service.
Saturday, June 30 The County has 63 wastewater pumping stations; 40 lost commercial power. All 63 wastewater pumping stations lost SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system communications during this storm.
Saturday, June 30 100+ homes reported damaged by fallen tress; 15 homes being reviewed by Building Inspector. 50+ FCPS sites were without power.
Saturday, June 30 Falls Church Water Utility issued a boil water advisory advising water customers in portions of Tysons Corner, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Merrifield to use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution. No issues for Fairfax Water customers.
Saturday, June 30 County voice and data was compromised due to power outages. Internal County radio system remained functional. F&R windshield surveys.
Saturday, June 30 Phone calls were initiated to everyone registered on the County’s special medical needs registry to see if any access or functional needs were identified; calls were continued daily through Tuesday, July 3. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/specialneeds/
Saturday, June 30 All County facilities with power serve as cooling opportunities. Due to power outages, messaging was done about available facilities that had power and were open.
Saturday, June 30 Local and State emergency declarations. Governor Robert (Bob) F. McDonnell and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova attended an operational briefing in the EOC.
Saturday, June 30 Governor Robert (Bob) F. McDonnell and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova conducted a joint press conference held at MPSTOC.
Sunday, July 1 EOC operational 24/7. 130 intersections affected. Boil water advisory in affect. Several police stations without commercial power.
Sunday, July 1 No 9-1-1 phone service, limited communication ability. Cooling opportunities continued. Extended hours at I-66 Transfer Station and I-495 Landfill complex.
Sunday, July 1 Regional CAO conference call to determine regional infrastructure damage, operating status, etc. Assessment of County facilities is ongoing; operational status for Monday determined.
Sunday, July 1 Notifications made to County staff (EAN, employee hotline, etc.) Accommodations made for several agencies and personnel due to power outages.
Tuesday, July 3 EOC operational, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 9-1-1 phone service restored; fully functional. Cooling opportunities continue. Continue to assess County infrastructure and operations. County open with unscheduled leave; emergency service personnel reported as scheduled.
Tuesday, July 3 Multiple conference calls with human service agencies, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), faith-based groups, etc. to ensure that human service needs were being met. Regional conference calls with emergency managers and CAOs continued (daily events).
Tuesday, July 3 Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, McLean, opened to provide a cool spot for residents. The church discontinued its heat relief operations at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 5. Other non-county sponsored locations were opened as well as cooling opportunities in several Board Districts.
Wednesday, July 4 EOC operational, 11 a.m. to midnight; Hours adjusted to ensure monitoring and coordination due to possible weather and fireworks events. Extended hours continue at I-66 Transfer Station and I-495 Landfill complex. Flat fee for debris drop-off.
Wednesday, July 4 Extended hours at RECenters. Fee waived for use of shower facilities at RECenters. Fire & Rescue continue “walkabouts” in the hardest hit areas of the County.
Wednesday, July 4 Cooling opportunities continued. Special information and referral line was operational, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Continue to assess County infrastructure and operations.
Thursday, July 5 EOC operational, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Continued restoration of power to County facilities, schools and prioritization of restoration of services in conjunction with Dominion Virginia Power.
Thursday, July 5 Cooling opportunities continue. Continued decrease in roadways/ intersections affected by power/debris. Continue to assess County infrastructure and operations.
Friday, July 6 EOC operational, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 483 meters without power (As of 5 p.m.) FCPS – power restored at all sites Continue to assess County infrastructure; all County facilities have power.
Derecho Storm Response For the event (June 29-July 6), there were four reported deaths* in Fairfax County. The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reported there have been 10 heat-related fatalities statewide since June 20.* Two fatalities from the storm; the additional two were patients transported to Fairfax hospitals from outside our jurisdiction.
Derecho Storm Response Next Steps – The Office of Emergency Management will conduct a complete after-incident report, bringing in County agencies, partner agencies and external partners. – The Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Information Technology have been working and beta testing an online damage disaster database, a reporting tool for residents to report damages. Given the June 29 storm, OEM and DIT staff fast-tracked the project. The database is live and will be promoted this week for residents to report derecho damage. – Investigate opportunities for improved communications.
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