The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Sandy mostly spares Fredericksburg area
BY KATIE THISDELL
Sandy spared the Fredericksburg region from any devastating damage this week, leaving just several inches of rain and a few thousand without power.
Officials throughout the region said Tuesday that the storm’s worst hours—late Monday and overnight—were uneventful.
“Nothing was like the worst scenario like what we were prepared for,” said Capt. Steven Lynd, deputy emergency management coordinator in King George County.
Warnings were issued for days in advance of the storm’s predicted landfall, advising the region of potentially high winds and flooding from Sunday to possibly Wednesday. People stocked up on supplies over the weekend, and most localities opened emergency shelters.
But Sandy tracked farther north than had been anticipated, making landfall at Delaware Bay, according to the Sterling office of the National Weather Service.
“The strongest winds were closer to the eye of the storm, and diminished as you moved out,” said meteorologist Heather Sheffield.
That meant that New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the storm, while Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties fared relatively well.
The University of Mary Washington’s weather station recorded 5.07 inches of rain on Monday, with nearly another inch on Tuesday.
Locally, the highest wind gust that the Weather Service recorded was 58 mph in King George about 7:45 p.m. Monday.
Coastal flooding could continue through the week, Sheffield said.
Fewer trees fell than during previous hurricanes and tropical storms, meaning that most people did not lose power.
Colonial Beach may have been hardest hit, with most of the town dark by 5:30 p.m. Monday.
A large tree toppled at the intersection of State Route 205 and 12th Street, pulling down power lines and closing several blocks until 2 a.m.
But unlike what happens during many big storms, the town saw no flooding and Route 205 never closed, Colonial Beach Police Chief Kenneth Blevins Sr. said Tuesday morning.
A Dominion Virginia Power serviceman was injured during the cleanup and was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, Blevins said.
About 50 people stayed overnight in Westmoreland County’s emergency shelter at Washington & Lee High School. No more than a dozen people stayed at other localities’ shelters, and most closed Tuesday morning.
At the peak of the outages, utilities reported 4,571 customers in Westmoreland and more than 8,000 in Fauquier County had lost power.
Dominion and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative said they expect to restore power to all customers by Thursday night.
Northern Neck Electric Cooperative had only a handful of outages left Tuesday night. Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative had about 6,200 outages Tuesday night, with about 1,200 of them in Fauquier and about 90 in Stafford County.
Fauquier and Culpeper counties had dozens of road closures, by far the most in the region. There was a high-wind advisory during the storm issued for the Harry Nice Bridge on U.S. 301 in King George.
The Virginia Department of Transportation reported that more than 280 roads, mostly secondary, were closed because of the storm as of Tuesday morning. There were minimal impacts to major primary roads and interstates.
The Virginia State Police reported that troopers responded to 2,549 traffic crashes and disabled vehicles, and received a total of 4,605 calls for service.
“At the height of the storm, state police got 155 calls an hour,” spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a news release.
There were no storm-related deaths reported in the Fredericksburg area.
Army National Guard soldiers from the Fredericksburg Armory helped state police with traffic control at an accident on Interstate 95 during the storm.
According to a Guard spokesman, they also gave military rations to some passengers in a disabled vehicle, cleared débris from an exit and helped two other motorists get back on the road.
Local businesses reported little property damage from the storm. There were some reports of minor building leaks, and the fence between Interstate 95 and Spotsylvania Towne Centre had some damage.
While the storm did not do any major damage, it did disrupt the daily routines of many local residents.
Schools, local governments, parks, military bases and the federal government shut down Monday and Tuesday. Some local businesses closed early on Monday, and some remained closed on Tuesday.
For example, Foode, a restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg, closed Tuesday after being unable to receive its supplies as normal from area farmers and artisans.
The storm actually boosted some area businesses.
Grocery and hardware stores had brisk sales leading up to the storm as people prepared for a local disaster that never unfolded.
And with another day of closed schools and the weather better than on Monday, the Paragon Village 12 movie theater was packed Tuesday, said Manager Joni Taylor.
She said that as on any other no-school day, there were big crowds.
Staff reporters Robyn Sidersky, Lindley Estes, Bill Freehling, Scott Shenk and Rusty Dennen contributed to this story.