Richmond mayor declares local state of emergency ahead of Sandy

Posted on: 1:32 pm, October 27, 2012, by , updated on: 05:00pm, October 27, 2012

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones declared a local state of emergency for the City of Richmond Saturday afternoon as much of the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy.

Jones said power outages will likely be the biggest challenge for the city. Downed trees will also likely be a factor because of high wind gusts. He said he thinks the city is prepared for the storm and that if the electricity is out for a prolonged period, “we will be ready for it.”

[LINK: Click here for latest Hurricane Sandy closings and delays]

Additionally, CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones asked the mayor what he would say to critics, who said he was missing in action for much of Hurricane Irene.

“I’m here and I’m leading,” Jones said.

The mayor went on to say that the city has been on top of this storm and has been alerting residents since Thursday. The city also sent word late Friday that shelters would be open on the city’s north and southside.

City leaders also announced Richmond’s Emergency Operations Center would be staffed starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday before, during and after the storm to coordinate response efforts.

Jones said that while he didn’t want to frighten residents about the storm, he asked them to be vigilante, proactive and make preparations now.

City leaders said two shelters for residents without power will open at 8 a.m. on Sunday. They are at Linwood Holton Elementary School at 1600 West Laburnum Avenue and J. H. Blackwell Elementary School at 1600 Everett Street.

Special GRTC buses will run Sunday that will take folks to the shelters. Officials said the buses will not display a route number, but will be marked “special.”  Other GRTC buses will operate on their normal schedule Sunday morning.

Officials said Saturday that cots, blankets, food and water would be available at the shelters. However, if you’re on a special diet, you’ll need to bring something to eat. Additionally, officials said it would be a good idea to bring books and activities for children.

Homeless shelters will also be open beginning Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Freedom House Conrad Center, located at 1400 Oliver Hill Way. The Freedom House Conrad Center will serve as a homeless shelter from Saturday through 6:30 p.m. on Monday.

Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. for Sandra Jones’ complete report.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Tracking Hurricane Sandy