Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said the commonwealth is shifting from response to recovery on Tuesday as Virginia was “spared a significant event.”
“The worst is certainly over now for Virginia,” McDonnell told reporters at a briefing in Richmond Tuesday afternoon
. “God has really blessed us here.”
More than 162,000 Virginians were still without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Tuesday afternoon, the majority -- more than 92,000 -- in northern Virginia. Power companies estimated most customers would have electricity restored by Thursday night. However, more customers were expected to lose power later this week in western Virginia, where snow is expected over the next couple of days.
About 280 roads were still closed across the commonwealth. The closings, mostly on secondary streets, were due to either standing water or debris on roads. The Jamestown ferry resumed service at 5 a.m. on Tuesday. HOV-lane restrictions are back in place, and the Hampton Roads bridges and tunnels were back in service.
McDonnell said 17 shelters in 13 localities were still housing 529 people as of noon Tuesday. He expected many of those people to begin returning to their homes later in the day.
McDonnell said nine registrar’s offices are currently without power, and others have been closed during the storm. All registrars have been asked to stay open up to eight additional hours to make up for time citizens may not have been able to vote in-person absentee on either Monday or Tuesday.
“I don’t want anything to interrupt full participation in democracy,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell said state government should be fully operational by Wednesday, and he has extended deadlines for several certifications and licenses set to expire at the end of the month until Nov. 9.
The commonwealth has also offered assistance to other states that were harder hit by the storm, including New York and New Jersey. In a conference call Tuesday with President Barack Obama, other governors and the mayors of cities in key states affected, McDonnell said Virginia has “lent a helping hand to them and will be providing whatever they need in terms of materials, personnel, and equipment.”
Motorists were asked to be cautious on roadways, especially in the western part of the state. McDonnell solicited donations for affected Virginians who will need assistance in the coming days.