Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Irene, which is anticipated to bring wind and rain to parts of the state this weekend.

State officials said Virginia may see flooding from both rain and storm surges in the eastern part of the state. Winds could reach hurricane strength in Hampton Roads, though others areas further inland could see tropical force winds.

Eastern Virginia residents who live in low-lying areas should be ready to evacuate ahead of the storm, according to McDonnell’s office. The state will not reverse lanes on I-64.

A state of emergency is declared under Virginia law so that state resources can be made available.

“Over the last 24 hours, a number of weather models have shifted the forecasted track of Irene slightly to the west, increasing the potential for inclement weather and potentially dangerous conditions in portions of Virginia,’’ McDonnell said. “At this time, I encourage all Virginians to gather items they may need this weekend in case of power outages and disruptions in public services and to make sure their family members and friends are also prepared for this storm.”

State agencies are preparing in the following ways:

· The state has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential impact and to take necessary actions.

· The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state’s response with increased staffing available 24 hours a day.

· The Virginia State Police and Virginia State Police Swift Water Rescue Team is on stand by.

· Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are ready to help with debris removal.

· Virginia Department of Transportation crews are preparing to clear roads.

· The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty.

· The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure that they are prepared for storm impacts.

For general information about the storm, dial 211 and for information about preparing for the hurricane, visit

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