September 7, 2005

Virginia agencies provide support in the wake of Hurricane Kristina

Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf States on August 29, bringing massive destruction to hundreds of communities throughout the area. President Bush has declared portions of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi federal disaster areas. FEMA and other federal agencies are assisting local recovery efforts.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, through a national emergency response network, is working to send emergency personnel to the affected states. Governor Mark Warner has directed state agencies and entities to inventory what resources might be deployed without affecting operations and services within the Commonwealth.

Visit FirstGov <> , the federal government's online Katrina public information source.

Visit the VDEM website, Virginia's online Katrina public information sourc.

Virginia Public Inquiry Center Opens at 866-880-4288
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has opened a call center at 866-880-4288 for the public to get answers to their questions and concerns. The Virginia Public Inquiry Center will be staffed during the following times:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 6 to Friday, Sept. 9: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What Can You Do?
Many Virginians are eager to help in any way they can. At this time, FEMA is asking that citizens please donate money rather than goods. They are also requesting that volunteers not "self-dispatch" to any affected area, but instead coordinate with volunteer organizations in order to best direct aid where it is needed most. (see FEMA news release <> )

Virginia citizens who want to volunteer their money or time can do so through the following reputable organizations:
Cash Donations Only

Cash and Volunteer Donations
Volunteers should not self-deploy. Contact your local volunteer organization to offer your time and skills. These organizations have established relationships with their partners in the affected area, and volunteers should work through these channels.

For more suggestions on volunteer organizations, see VirginiaCORPS <> or the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster <>  Web sites.

Protection from Fraud
The Virginia Information Technology Agency's Security Services Unit has received multiple reports of individuals using fraudulent Hurricane Katrina donation and relief Web sites to solicit donations, including, and If you feel that you have been the victim of charity fraud or a disaster scam, file a report with:

  • Office of the Attorney General
    • Antitrust and Consumer Litigation Section
    • 900 East Main Street
    • Richmond, Virginia 23219
    • (804) 786-2116 or (800) 451-1525
  • Office of Consumer Affairs
    • 1100 Bank Street, Suite 100
    • Richmond, Virginia 23219
    • (804) 786-2042 or (800) 552-9963
  • Virginia Department fo Agriculture and Consumer Services
    • Hotline to report price gouging at gas stations: 1-800-552-9963

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance <>  provides information on charity organizations that are the subject of donor inquiries.

Assisting Evacuees
As evacuees from the Gulf Coast begin to arrive in the Commonwealth to stay with family, friends, and in some cases complete strangers it is important for them to register with the local chapter of the Red Cross and with FEMA. After screening by the Red Cross, local social service agencies will be in a better position to process evacuees into appropriate state, local and voluntary programs.

Governor Warner has instructed representatives from the Virginia Departments of Emergency Management, General Services, Social Services, Housing and Community Development, Health, the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Virginia Employment Commission, and other state, private and faith-based groups to assess the Commonwealth's capacity to receive, house, and coordinate services for evacuees from the Gulf Coast region.

Gasoline in Virginia
Governor Warner has not ordered Virginia gas stations to close or amend their gasoline selling functions. Rather, he urges Virginians to drive smart: Conserve gas where possible but do not change your normal gas-buying habits, or hoard fuel. Governor Warner also asks Virginians to bear with petroleum retailers during this short-term supply issue. If you spot price gouging, please report it to VDACS via their toll-free hotline at 1-800-552-9963.

Citizen Corps/CERT Volunteers

  • At this time there are no specific requests for Citizen Corps/CERT volunteers to serve in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. If there are any requests to the state office, they will be forwarded to local Citizen Corps Program Points of Contact when applicable.
  • Please check back periodically to see if this status changes.
  • If you are a well-trained Citizen Corps/CERT volunteer there are many opportunities to serve with your local Red Cross and/or other nationally recognized Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster -- please check with those organizations to see what you can do by using the Web links listed on this page.
  • You should be keeping in close contact with your local Citizen Corps Program Coordinator as they will have the most up to date information from the state and national Citizen Corps office regarding any volunteer requests. Make sure that they have your most recent contact information.

Finding Family Members
People looking for family members should call the Red Cross at (866) GET-INFO. The Red Cross also has an online registry for concerned family members and evacuees. Go to <>  and click on the "Family Links Registry" link.

Additionally, people looking for lost family members can call 1-877-LOVED-1S (568-3317).

What is Virginia Doing to Respond?
At the direction of Governor Mark R. Warner, the Commonwealth is preparing to shelter more than 4,000 evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. Virginia's National Guard facility at Fort Pickett near Blackstone will serve as an intake/recovery center and short-term shelter for 1,000 evacuees at a time. The Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center will also shelter 400 people in Blackstone.

Evacuees will move from Fort Pickett to longer-term housing in Virginia, much of which will be provided by faith-based organizations. Services to evacuees at the fort will be provided by the American Red Cross and a number of state agencies, including the Virginia National Guard, the Department of Emergency Management, and the Department of Social Services. The Governor's press release <>  contains more detailed information.

Governor Warner has also directed government agencies in the Commonwealth to provide aid to Gulf Coast states affected by Katrina. The agencies have taken the actions detailed below.

Virginia Emergency Operations Center

  • Augmented with additional staffing of state agency personnel
  • Currently supporting 5 Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) missions in Louisiana and 2 in Mississippi

Department of Forestry

  • 45 personnel assisting with the response (2 crews of 20 plus 5 personnel assisting with specialty roles on Incident Management Teams)
  • Deployed 6 three-person chainsaw strike teams to Saint Stephens, Mississippi to help with debris clearing and removal.

Department of Health

  • Deployed two Registered Nurses from the Chesapeake Medical Reserve Corps-one to Montgomery, Alabama for further assignment and the other to Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Deploying a Department of Health Public Information Officer to Texas in support of FEMA
  • Deployed 5 volunteers from the Virginia Beach Medical Reserve Corps to Montgomery, Alabama where they will be further deployed to affected areas
  • Identifying volunteers to form public health response teams for deployment to the Gulf Coast. Collected more than 100 VDH agency volunteer names to date
  • Tracking deployment of Sentara Health System self-sustained Response Team deployment.
  • Deployed 12 personnel from Strike Team 1 of the Virginia Disaster Medical Action Team on 5 missions, with 32 additional personnel standing by for immediate deployment
  • Office of the Chief Medical Examiner personnel on alert for potential Federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team support
  • Instructed local health departments to provide evacuee shelter support/public health assistance if needed
  • Coordinating with the Medical Society of Virginia, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and Virginia Nurses Association to create a system for providing medical volunteers to the impacted areas. Volunteers should be vaccinated against tetanus/diphtheria. Those who will offer direct patient care or can expect to be in contact with bodily fluids should be immunized against Hepatitis B.
  • Contacted local hospitals about additional body bags and decontamination showers

Department of Human Resources

  • Through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) has mobilized a monetary fund drive within the state work force to assist with hurricane relief

Virginia Information Technologies Agency

  • EMAC Request Summary information is posted on the On-Line EOC. Any On-Line EOC access issues should be directed to VITA Customer Care at 1-866-637-8482

Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy

  • Richmond Reformulated Gas waiver effective through September 9

Virginia National Guard

  • Deployed 120 guardsmen, mainly military police, to assist Louisiana. 24 airguards were deployed with the military police. The guardsmen have been attached to the 35th Infantry Division and are on their way to the Belle Chase Naval Air Station
  • Deployed 6 guardsmen with the 203rd Red Horse unit, a laundry and bath unit
  • Deploying 225 National Guard personnel in the vicinity of Jackson, Mississippi

Department of Social Services

  • DSS Hotline for faith-based groups to offer temporary housing for evacuees available at 1-800-777-8293
  • Directing local offices to refer evacuees to local chapter of American Red Cross (ARC) and provide FEMA teleregistration number. After screening by ARC, DSS will process evacuees into appropriate program
  • DSS will provide guidelines to localities for providing assistance to evacuees

Virginia State Police

  • Helicopter equipped with a hoist and staffed by two pilots now performing rescue missions in New Orleans and Baton Rouge as well as providing restocking supplies


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