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Roanoke Valley leaders outline hurricane preparedness plan

ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Valley is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. 

Emergency personnel and other stakeholders from around the valley held a meeting Tuesday morning about community preparedness. 

Those on hand included Appalachian Power, Carilion, Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke Fire-EMS, Roanoke Police, City of Salem and Roanoke County. 

Everyone gave an update as to what is in the works to prepare for the potential severe weather risk.

Some things to do now: Check your flood insurance policy, check to see if you are in a flood area, and make an emergency kit.  

Only call 911 for emergencies. There was significant flooding in Roanoke County in June and crews are preparing for the worst in the next coming days. 

Roanoke County Fire Chief Steve Simon said, "And that was very localized. If you look at them from a comparison standpoint, that was about 7 inches of rain in a very short amount of time. The streams just can't take that. The worst-case scenario is that we get that much rain for the whole Roanoke Valley is going to be a very significant event."

The City of Roanoke will be preparing to start going door to door telling people to be prepared while there is still time. They want you to get enough food and water to last for 72 hours after the weather has cleared the area.

The Salvation Army is on standby to feed thousands of people from the Roanoke Valley and evacuees from the Carolinas and other parts of Virginia. 

"We will have seven trucks that are arriving here Roanoke. We have our permanent truck here in Roanoke a truck in Lynchburg as well as a truck in Harrisonburg," said Captain Monica Seiler, Salvation Army. 

These trucks are mobile feeding units. They'll be able to provide hot meals and snacks. They will be staged in Roanoke until after the storm hits to see where the need is for the most isolated areas.

"As they may be flooded out or may have trees down and they lost electricity. Those who may have interruption in their water supply and we'll be getting out to those areas," Seiler said. 

Roanoke Fire and EMS are also preparing residents for flooding and the worst possible scenario. 

"We do have a spreadsheet that kind of tells us all the addresses that are in the floodplain. We will be reaching out to them and talking to them and say, 'Hey you are at risk. Please heed the warning, listen to the media and if it's time to get out please do so.' Our goal here is, we can't stop the water but we can stop the loss of life," said Chief Hoback, Roanoke City Fire and EMS. 

The flood of 1985 was brought up many times during the news conference in comparison to the amount of rain expected toward the end of week. The flood was a result of rain from Hurricane Juan falling for a week.

"That ended with 6.61 inches of rain in 24 hours. That is still the record and remains a 24-hour record for rainfall," said Dwayne D'Ardenne, Stormwater Utility Manager. 

Ensuring the community, the storm water division in Roanoke explains the work done since 1985.

"The Roanoke River Flood Reduction project has been completed. There's a $72 million project that has increased the flow at conveying capacity through the city of Roanoke. And that will help through this storm," said D'Ardenne.