RICHMOND, Va. -- Authorities are urging Virginians to begin preparing for the potential impact of Tropical Storm Florence, which the National Hurricane Center forecasts will become a major hurricane, possibly reaching category four by late Tuesday.
Jeff Caldwell, with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), said state officials are monitoring the storm.
“Right now we are watching very closely to see what storm track this storm takes," Caldwell said. With each new model it seems to be zeroing in more and more on the East Coast, which means we here in Virginia have to get ready in case the storm either strikes us directly or comes up inland after it hits the Carolinas."
Gov. Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency on Saturday to start readying assets, including the Virginia National Guard as well as pre-positioning people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery.
Caldwell urged folks to spend some time this weekend to start preparing for the storm's potential impacts like high winds that down trees and power lines, heavy rains that cause flooding as well as storm surge for coastal communities.
“The power may be out for days or weeks on end, cell phone service may not work," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said there are several things home owners can do to prepare for heavy rains and flooding, which is one of the most dangerous and deadly impacts of the storm.
“You can look around your property and clear your gutters and storm drains around your property," Caldwell said. “Moving lawn furniture inside and securing it. Moving grills inside and looking around your yard to see if there’s anything loose. Are there any limbs that could fall or any trees that could fall and be thrown around by high winds."
Jonathan McNamara with the American Red Cross said creating an emergency survival kit is also essential when it comes to storm preparedness.
“Your food, your water, your flashlight light and extra batteries -- the types of things that can sustain you over the course of a couple of days. And that’s also medications for you, your family members and your pets," said McNamara explained. "Feel free to personalize this kit for your specific family needs."
VDEM officials also asked folks to create -- or review -- their storm plan.
“We are assuming at this point we are going to get an impact somewhere across the East Coast and we’re keeping a very close eye on it," Caldwell said.
Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for complete coverage of Florence. Click here to track the storm with the CBS 6 Interactive Hurricane Tracker.