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Post-Derecho: McLean Citizens Association Wants Improved Disaster Recovery

The association passed a resolution this week on improving response times for future disaster events.

The McLean Citizens Association decided on Wednesday night that Dominion Power and the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management need to improve response times to future natural disasters, based on the county's and the utility's performance after the June 29 derecho, which wiped out power to tens of thousands of homes in the Dranesville District.

The association passed a resolution this week, citing the fact that many residents were not able to reach a 911 call center during a deadly heat wave that followed the storm and that the first cooling centers in McLean did not open until July 4, five days after the derecho hit the metro area.

“It was pretty much a huge order of magnitude of a disaster," said Patrick Smaldore, chair of the citizen association's public safety liaison committee.

The resolution, passed unanimously by the association's board, concluded that the Office of Emergency Management needs to try to give residents more advance warning about potential disasters. It also concludes that the Dranesville district needs "at least one substantial public facility with adequate generator power to heat and cool the facility in the event of a power outage."

The association agreed that Dominion needs to make restoring power to the Dranesville district a priority in future outages. The resolution also states that the association is willing to work with the utility company to study the costs of "undergrounding" power lines,

Tree trimming is another priority the association set out in the resolution.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Great Falls Public Library meeting room to discuss the aftermath of the derecho. Representatives from Dominion will be present.

adrienne downs September 14, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Tree-trimming that leaves a tree with uneven distribution of its weight is commonplace. Driving through my own area, I can see a number of trees leaning over the road in what appear to be precarious positions. Tree-trimming should focus not only on clearing away branches that impinge on the lines, but also on maintaining the balance of the tree so the whole thing won't come crashing down and create a much bigger problem to fix.
James V Doane September 14, 2012 at 01:07 PM
I have lived in McLean since 1983. After spending half of my adult life in the Foreign Service abroad, I felt I know all about power outages having lived in the 3rd and 4th worlds. I live on Baldwin Drive and almost every time it rains or the wind blows our power goes out. Bad storms like hurricanes or the recent derecho left us without power for days. My wife and I sometimes feel like we are back in the 3rd world, except we live in McLean. The loss of power is outrageous.
LH September 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I'm from RI originally and I've never seen such lax tree-trimming since I moved to VA. And it's not just northern VA, I've lived on the eastern shore and in Charlottesville too. Maybe it's due to the fact that we get more snow up in RI, but there's never a tree branch anywhere near a power line on any street where I'm from. I believe most trees are trimmed to maintain a minimum of 10-15 feet of clearance around power lines. When I moved down here I saw things like vines growing entirely across streets on power lines and cases where where tree branches had grown around the power line entirely. My hometown is old (over 250 years old!), our infrastructure is old, and our power lines are almost entirely above-ground. But we don't have half the problems with power outages that I've had since I moved to VA. Growing up, I always wondered why we had huge cuts out of all of our trees that lined our roads. We certainly have some very funny looking, but well-trimmed trees.
Campbell Shannon September 18, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I have to say that the response my family experience was hard to accept, our house that we rent was one of 4 houes on my street, Aldebaran Drive, that was without power until Tuesday, 5 days, the rest of the neighborhood had power restored on Saturday. How can a few houses be reliant on a power line that is so unreliable? The other affected neighbors stated that this is common experience for them, they lose power much more often that the rest of the neighborhood and usually for longer than they do as well. Why does Dominion not replace the unreliable line???

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