RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Many Richmonders are busy stocking up on essentials to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, which means stores like Pleasant’s Hardware are in short supply of candles, flashlights, and batteries.
Poor Richard’s Almanac couldn’t predict having to prepare for a hurricane this time of the year or the impact of Hurricane Irene last August. After Irene, folks were left in dark for days.
Michelle Williams reflected the devastation left behind in her South Richmond neighborhood. She said Irene wiped out her deck, fence, yard and a car.
“It was utter shock,” said Williams.
She said a huge tree blocked her dead-end street for nearly a week.
“It was cumbersome,” said Williams. “We have a neighborhood park association down the street, and residents in this area pretty much use the park to leave and come back here.”
She expressed her disappointment over how the city responded to the storm.
“We haven’t had any bulletins or any kind of walk through the neighborhood or anything that would let us know that they would be more prepared to help us or assist us,” said Williams.
“The operative word for us today is pro-activity,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.
At a news briefing Saturday, Mayor Jones and his staff laid out their plan of action.
“We have essential personnel on standby” the mayor said. “They will report to our operations center at 8 a.m. Sunday,” he added.
Mayor Jones also set up storm relief shelters. “We’re working with GRTC for person’s who want to use the GRTC transportation will look for buses marked special to take residents to those shelters.”
The mayor is working to communicate with the public before Sandy hits, after lessons learned from Hurricane Irene.
When CBS 6’s Sandra Jones asked the mayor to address some of the public’s concerns over his lack of visibility and leadership during Hurricane Irene – his response:
“I’m here and I’m leading,” said Mayor Jones, which was what Williams wanted to hear.
“If you ever lived through that once and incurred the damage that I did, you don’t want to see that again,” said Williams.
Mayor Jones said nearly a dozen agencies including Richmond Police, Fire, Social Services and Animal Care and Control will man the city’s operation center inside the Richmond Ambulance Authority at 2400 Hermitage Avenue.
The city will open two emergency shelters Sunday morning. One will be at Linwood Holton Elementary School at 1600 West Laburnum Avenue. The other shelter will be at J.H. Blackwell Elementary School at 1600 Everett Street.
City residents can call 311 for help.