Bomb cyclone recovery: What you need to know as Virginia Beach cleans up after the storm

Offices on Little Neck Road in Virginia Beach. Photo submitted by Derek Mason.

VIRGINIA BEACH — As Virginia Beach continues to recover from the blizzard effects caused by the so-called “winter bomb cyclone,” authorities and city officials are asking you to be safe and avoid venturing out for now due to the conditions.

Community members were asked to be mindful of the following:

Stay off the roads: Residents are urged to stay off the roadways, which police say are very dangerous due to ice, snow, bitterly cold temperatures, poor visibility, falling tree branches and downed power lines.

If you absolutely must travel, have a winter survival kit with you.

What to pack in your winter weather driving kit:

  • Blanket
  • Ice scraper
  • Flares/reflective triangles
  • Flash light (with extra batteries)
  • Jumper cables
  • Bag of abrasive material such as cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Cloth or paper towels
  • Cell phone with a full charge.

Guide for driving on snow covered roads (from AAA):

  • Increase following distance – Increase your following distance to at least 10 seconds to allow yourself time in the event you or the car in front of you loses control. The stopping distance required on ice at zero degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at thirty-two degrees.
  • Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses – Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Therefore, use extra caution as the roadway leading up to the bridge may appear fine but the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • Accelerate slowly – Traction is the greatest just before the wheel starts to spin; therefore accelerating slowly will increase your grip on the road.
  • Ease off the gas pedal – If your tires begin to slip or you begin to skid, ease off the gas pedal until you regain control of the vehicle.
  • Brake slowly and gently – Slamming on the brakes on ice covered roads dramatically increases your risk of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Control the skid – In the event you find your car is skidding, ease off of the accelerator or brake, and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
  • Never use cruise control – Cruise control is not recommended to use when pavement is wet or ice is on the road as the driver should be in full control of the vehicle at every second.
  • Drive in cleared lanes – Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

Know what to do if you are stuck snow: If your vehicle is stuck in the snow on city roadways, please stay with your vehicle and call a tow truck.

Do not call 911 if you are stuck in snow. Only call 911 if there are injuries or a life-threatening incident.

For non-emergencies, call 311 or 385-5000. The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 511.

Shelters are available: A shelter remains open and staffed at Landstown High School, 2001 Concert Drive, for residents who are experiencing power outages.

Bring supplies – blankets, extra clothes, food, etc. The Virginia Beach departments of Public Health and Human Services are staffing the shelter. For a list of things you should bring to the shelter click here.​

Closures: All City offices and facilities will remain closed for business on Friday, including the Virginia Aquarium, Virginia Beach Public Library locations, and Virginia Beach recreation centers and parks.

Public transportation delays: Hampton Roads Transit has announced that all services are suspended through Friday, Jan. 5. For more information or to learn when service will resume, please visit gohrt.com or call 757-222-6100.

Trash service delayed: Virginia Beach officials said wintry weather conditions continue to impact trash and recycling collection.

Curbside collection will not occur on Friday for the City of Virginia Beach.

Trash and recycling cart collection will resume as road conditions allow.

Collections will begin with areas not serviced Wednesday, Jan. 3, normal Thursday collection areas and continuing with each area until collections for the week are completed.

Residents are asked to leave trash and recycling carts at the curb until they are serviced.

Normal yard debris and bulk item collections are suspended for the week of Jan. 3 and will resume next week.

The City said the Landfill and Resource Recovery Center will operate on the same schedule as other City Facilities and Offices.

If you have any questions you may call 385-4650, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit www.vbgov.com/wastemgt​

Need help removing snow?: Operation Blessing International’s Snow Buddy program is searching for volunteers to shovel for people who are elderly, sick, disabled, single moms and patients needing to make it to medical appointments/treatment.

Call Operation Blessing at 757-793-1837 to volunteer. Virginia Beach residents who need assistance shoveling snow from their home, driveway or residential area and do not have the resources to do it on their own may call Operation Blessing at 757-284-9183.

Assistance is based on volunteer availability.

Protect your pipes from freezing: With unusually low temperatures forecasted to continue for the next several days, Tidewater residents are advised to take precautions to protect their irrigation and household water systems from freezing.

Tips to protect your home:

  • Exposed backflow assemblies for irrigation systems should be removed or adequately insulated.
  • Exposed water lines to fixtures, such as outside showers, should be isolated and drained. Pour a small amount of RV/Marine antifreeze (Prestone, Peak, or equivalent) into drains/toilets that may be subject to freezing. Do not use standard automotive antifreeze/coolant.
  • Exposed water lines in open crawl spaces should be adequately insulated.
  • Turn off irrigation systems to avoid creating icy sidewalks and driveways.
  • If your water lines do freeze, please be careful when thawing the lines. Do not apply excessive heat which may damage pipes or cause a fire. Heating devices with open flames should not be used. Electric heaters and heat tape should be powered through a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in case the device comes into contact with standing or spraying water.

Keep your pets safe as low temperatures continue: Pets living outside are facing deadly weather conditions this week, especially when forecasted temperatures consistently drop far below freezing at night.

The Heritage Humane Society offered these tips for pets owners:

  • Bring all pets indoors, even outdoor pets, with only short trips outside to relieve themselves.
  • If bringing a pet inside is not an option, add straw to their shelter to provide warmth and insulation. It is required by law that pets have a shelter regardless of the weather.
  • Since this will be a brief cold spell, adding wool or synthetic blankets to the shelter is a decent option if straw is not available. Do not use cotton as it retains moisture instead of wicking it away which can make the pet colder.
  • By law, if the pet remains outside, it must have access to drinkable water at all times. The water will freeze and it will freeze frequently. So make sure that their water is replenished every few hours. Licking iced-over water is not going to keep a pet properly hydrated.
  • By law, the shelter must be at least 6 inches off the ground, have 3 sides, a roof and a flap to protect the pet from the elements
  • If the pet remains outside, a diet with extra protein is recommended.

Have more tips? Send them to news@southsidedaily.com.

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