RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon in anticipation of heavy rain and high winds from Tropical Storm Michael.
“I want to urge all Virginians to prepare for the serious possibility of flash floods, tropical storm force winds, tornadoes, and power outages,” Northam said in a written announcement.
Social media was already showing images of heavy rain and flooding in the Roanoke area as the remnants of the powerful storm tracked northward.
In Richmond, state government offices closed at 2 p.m., city offices closed at 3 and schools were being let out early in advance of the storm’s arrival. Dominion Energy, Virginia’s biggest electric utility, sent out warnings urging residents to prepare for possible outages and describing efforts to position workers to make repairs.
Northam’s emergency declaration allows the state to mobilize resources in preparation for any damage from the storm.
The move comes just a month after Northam took the unprecedented step of issuing evacuation orders for low-lying parts of the Hampton Roads area as Hurricane Florence approached.
Though Virginia dodged serious damage from that storm, which instead delivered its major blow to North Carolina, the state was on the hook for some $75 million in emergency preparation expenses. Officials said the federal government should reimburse up to 75 percent of those funds.
Thursday’s emergency declaration did not involve any evacuation orders. Virginia residents were urged to visit www.VAemergency.gov for preparedness tips, and www.511Virginia.org for updates on road conditions.