The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Governor says worst of storm is over, damage assessment begins
Gov. Bob McDonnell said today that the worst of Hurricane Sandy has passed in Virginia, but it “will likely be days” before damage assessments are completed.
“We are in the recovery period now,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell was providing a storm briefing in Richmond. For most of the state, Sandy’s winds and rain are moving out without causing the kind of devastation that was feared, although Southwest Virginia is still seeing snowy conditions, icy roads and power outages.
While the storm has passed for most of Virginia, McDonnell warned people to still be cautious — some roads have debris or standing water, and temperatures tonight could be freezing.
“There are still going to be hazardous conditions for a couple of days,” he said.
As of the time of McDonnell’s early-afternoon briefing, Dominion was reporting about 162,000 power customers still in the dark, 92,000 of those in Northern Virginia. McDonnell said utility companies anticipate getting most power restored by Thursday night. Appalachian Power, which serves Southwest Virginia, had about 30,000 customers without power as of noon.
President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Virginia early this morning, allowing the state to receive federal aid for cleanup efforts. That’s different from individual assistance for personal property damage — that application would be made after damage assessments are done.
McDonnell said he has reached out to governors of states hit hard by Sandy — especially New Jersey and New York — to offer to “help them any way we can, because we have been blessed with relatively minor damage here in Virginia.”
State offices will reopen tomorrow after being closed for two days. But McDonnell said he’s extending deadlines for state licensing and permits that expire in October — so if your state car inspection or driver’s license was due to expire tomorrow, you will now have until Nov. 9 to renew.
He has also asked voter registrars around the state to extend voting hours by up to eight hours, to give people more opportunities to vote in-person absentee. Virginia doesn’t have early voting — to vote early absentee, you have to provide a reason, such as being out of state on Election Day.
McDonnell said he doesn’t expect the storm will affect voting at all by Election Day.
“We don’t believe there will be any problem with any voting location, any precinct,” he said.