Governor McAuliffe urges citizens to prepare for major storm, Hurricane Joaquin

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RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Governor Terry McAuliffe and other state officials held a news conference Thursday at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center.

During the new conference, McAuliffe said he wanted citizens to focus on the impending storm that's expected to hit the state Thursday evening - as well as the potential impacts of Hurricane Joaquin.

In preparation for both events, the state has staged multiple Swift Water Rescue Teams in various locations. The Virginia Department of Defense/National Guard said they've mobilized 800 soldiers/airmen across the Commonwealth. The Virginia Dept. of Forestry, as well as Chainsaw Teams have been alerted.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said the state of emergency status allowed them to mobilize 2,500 employees. Many are "on-call" to help maintain the roadways throughout the weekend. VDOT said they will be starting with major highways before targeting secondary roads.

The Virginia Emergency Operations Center went into full operations Wednesday night and are now staffed 24/7.

When asked about potentially evacuating certain areas of the state Gov. McAullife called it a unique situation stating, "We cannot move folks out to areas that are already flooded. We're expecting a major severe event of rainfall over the next 36 hours - plus this potential hurricane."

McAuliffe declared a state of emergency for the state Wednesday ahead of heavy rain and the threat of hurricane Joaquin.

Heavy rain hit many areas in the state into Tuesday, September 29, causing flooding and damage to roads, homes and businesses.

Wednesday brought clear skies, but more rain was forecast beginning Thursday and Hurricane Joaquin threatens to hit many areas along Virginia Beach beginning Saturday.

About 40 roads remained closed in southwest Virginia Wednesday afternoon due to flooding. East and westbound Route 58 traffic was using a single open lane on a three-mile section between Route 640 (Central Academy Road) and the scenic overlook atop Lovers Leap Mountain. Drivers were told to expect delays on Route 58 as pilot trucks and flaggers were controlling traffic around the clock.

Joaquin strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane Thursday, but meteorologists remained divided about whether it is likely to smash into the East Coast.