Augusta County and Waynesboro open emergency shelters
UPDATE (Sep. 17):
As remnants of Hurricane Florence pour rain on to the Shenandoah Valley, areas along the South River, which is expected to hit flood stage in the next days, are opening up emergency shelter sites.
Augusta County is opening up its shelter at the new Riverheads Elementary School at noon on Monday. The shelter is equipped with basic resources for an extended stay, but if you have to go to the school, officials recommend bringing sleeping bags, blankets and pillows; towels; personal hygiene items; baby formula; diapers; medications; and phone chargers. Weapons and alcohol are prohibited.
The old Riverheads Elementary School is set up as an animal shelter for any pets that need evacuated from the storm. Bring any medications the pets may need.
According to the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, the Wilson Fire Department evacuated several residents of the Lyndhurst area as a precautionary measure Monday morning. Those individuals went to stay with family and friends, however.
In Waynesboro, Kate Collins Middle School is opening as an emergency shelter at noon on Monday as well.
While most rivers and creaks will near flood stage, Waynesboro is expected to see significant flooding, especially along the South River, due to water settling off of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sandbags are still available at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona near the dock where the farmer's market is normally held. You must bring your own shovel.
Most school districts in the area closed at the start of the day. Staunton will dismiss students two hours early. The Queen City has not announced plans to open its shelter at A.R. Ware Elementary School at this time, but Gypsy Hill Park has been closed to the public due to flooding.
Augusta County, Waynesboro, and Staunton are all prepared to open up emergency shelters for anyone displaced by flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Florence early next week. They're each also offering sandbags and a variety of other resources to help residents handle the effects of Florence.
Here are the latest announcements for preparations in each area:
At the county's Board of Supervisors meeting on September 12, a local emergency was declared, allowing emergency services to access state resources and apply for federal aid if needed.
The county has designated Riverheads Elementary School as an emergency shelter site for Hurricane Florence. Later this week, county officials will decide if the shelter will need to open and will announce a date and time accordingly.
If you have to come to the school, they recommend bringing sleeping bags, blankets and pillows; towels; personal hygiene items; baby formula; diapers; medications; and phone chargers. Weapons and alcohol are prohibited.
If you're looking for sandbags, sand and bags are available at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, near the dock where the Farmer's Market is held. You can come fill your own sandbag, but must bring your own shovel.
The Dooms Volunteer Fire Department will also have sandbags available.
For pets, the old Riverheads Elementary School is being repurposed into an animal shelter if need-be.
In addition, according to county supervisor Marshall Pattie, Mount Solon Fire and Rescue will open their community building to the public as a heating and cooling station to offer a temperature-controlled location that will remain safe and dry for those who have to leave home. You will need to bring water, food, medicine, and other emergency supplies with you if you come to this location, as well as bedding, since the location only has metal chairs.
The county plans to continue offering sand and sandbags as long as supplies last.
All Augusta County parks, including Natural Chimneys, will close from Friday at noon to Monday at noon.
The City of Staunton plans to declare a local emergency at the city council meeting on Thursday to help resources be allocated for assisting in storm preparation and response, including possibly calling in the National Guard, which has an armory in the city.
The city has prepared three shelters if any area of the city has to be evacuated or if power outages last longer than three days: the first primary shelter will be A.R. Ware Elementary School. If need-be, two other city schools will be utilized as shelters as well.
If you're looking for sandbags, the city will provide sand and bags on Saturday at Montgomery Hall Park between 8 and 1 p.m. at the soccer field parking lot. Just like other areas, you must bring your own shovel.
The city had initially included times for Friday as well, but removed those times with the updated forecast for the storm.
All businesses on the Wharf, which sits at one of the lowest levels of the hilly city, are advised to mount their flood control panels.
A closure of Gypsy Hill Park originally planned for 5 p.m. on Friday has been lifted for now. Due to its tendency to flood, the city will make a decision on the park's status if conditions worsen. If that happens, entering the park during its closure will merit a trespassing charge.
If major flooding happens, streets prone to flooding in the city will be closed.
To help with parking concerns, the city will suspend fees in the New Street Parking Garage for the duration of the storm.
The city is also working with Dominion Energy to develop plans for restoring power in the wake of the storm and with the Public Works Department for clearing debris and downed trees.
The City of Waynesboro has prepared to use Kate Collins Middle School as en emergency shelter if the need arises, but an exact time will be decided according to need from the storm.
Any pets evacuating will be sent along to the pet-friendly shelter at the old Riverheads Elementary School in Greenville.
The city is offering sand and sandbags for residents and business owners at the Municipal Parking Lot at Arch Ave. and Main Street downtown, as well as in the cul-de-sac on Brookside Cove in the Club Court and River Shores neighborhood.
As of September 13, the city decided that sand and sandbags at each distribution point will not be restocked once they have depleted unless the forecast changes. Waynesboro has provided 140 tons of sand 8,000 sand bags so far.
Rain showers over the weekend may cause flash flooding of small streams, creeks and roadways, followed by heavy rainfall from Florence bring 4-6 inches from Sunday night through Tuesday, which is likely to cause flooding of the South River watershed, especially in combination with runoff and upsloping effects from the mountains, which can be devastating for the Waynesboro area.
Residents and business owners in flood-prone areas are asked to remain alert and prepared in case an evacuation is ordered.
Also, residents or businesses with drainage culverts, storm water drain inlets, and street curbing are asked to make sure they are clear of debris and yard waste to allow for maximum efficiency of the storm water system during the storm.
All city public safety and public works staff are on increased alert and are prepared to respond where needed.
You can sign up for alerts from Waynesboro
. That is how any evacuations from the city will be announced.
Related StoriesHurricane Florence: time to prepare
Entire Blue Ridge Parkway shuts down Friday evening
Tips on keeping pets safe from Hurricane Florence
Hurricane Florence: Local Forecast
Sand, sand bags available for some Valley residents ahead of Florence
How to make an emergency preparedness kit for Hurricane Florence
Kaine ahead of Hurricane Florence: 'This isn't a joke"
Florence could flood hog manure pits, coal ash dumps