Damage from flash flooding that hit Fairfax County earlier this month will require millions of dollars for necessary repairs.
Seamus Mooney, the director of the Office of Emergency Management, gave the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) an update on the damage assessment nearly a month after the region experienced about one month’s worth of rain during a couple of hours on the morning of July 8.
Fairfax County retroactively declared a local emergency about a week later to seek federal disaster aid. (The board voted to terminate the local emergency today.)
After giving an overview of the “catastrophic rain event,” Mooney broke down the estimates for how much repairing the damage will cost.
Kirby Road Facing $4 Million Repairs
Mooney said that some people were landlocked when severe weather damage closed the 1300 block of Kirby Road. Another McLean road — Swinks Mill Road — suffered extreme damage.
The Virginia Department of Transportation told Tysons Reporter that both roads are facing months of repair work.
Mooney said that the Virginia Department of Transportation recorded about $4 million of the $6 million recorded road damage was just at Kirby Road. Because the roads are funded through state highway funds, Mooney said that they are not eligible for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called for proactive measures to ensure that the road improvements speed up.
“As a county, we need to put pressure on VDOT,” Foust said. “They’re telling us it’s going to be months [for Kirby Road]. That’s not acceptable.”
Storm’s Impact on Residents and Businesses
As for residents and businesses, Mooney said that the 277 entries in the county’s Disaster Damage Database as of yesterday (Monday) total about $6.8 million for a “significant amount of damage.”
Money said that state and federal programs can provide individual assistance — Fairfax County is currently waiting to hear back about
Mooney said Fairfax County has been working with surrounding jurisdictions including Arlington on damage assessments to determine eligibility for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which gives loans to disaster victims.
Since Arlington exceeded the 25 damaged properties requirement, Mooney said that Fairfax County should expect to hear from SBA by this week or next week. “[It’s] contiguous — if one gets it, we all get it,” Mooney said.
Fairfax County has chosen the Tysons Pimmit Regional Library as the location for a Disaster Loan Outreach Center and has the space reserved starting next week.
“As soon as we get the notice we can work with OPA and get it open for residents,” Mooney said, adding that residents will have up to six months to fill out the applications if they want a loan.
“Could Have Done More”
While the Board of Supervisors praised the quick response by emergency personnel, several board members — especially Foust — voiced frustration about preventing future damage of this magnitude.
Foust said that the county “could have done more” to prepare, including:
- investing in infrastructure that protects people’s homes
- pressuring VDOT to prioritize local road improvements
- having packages prepared in advance for residents with information on emergency and disaster next steps
- strengthening “grossly inadequate” stormwater management requirements
- focusing on tree preservation
“It’s been difficult on a lot of people, and we have to step up,” Foust said.
The board also voted today to designate September of Emergency Preparedness Awareness Month.
“It doesn’t take much for someone to have a very bad day,” Mooney said, adding that the designation might “make sure people become more resilient to these types of events.”
Additionally, Mooney said that the county is utilizing social media, Fairfax Alerts and other avenues to share information with residents, adding that the county also added people who entered their information into the Disaster Damage Database to Fairfax Alerts.
“Of note, between July 8-12, we sent out 1o2 storm-related tweets and Facebook posts,” he said. “We’ve been using that to make sure anyone who has submitted information, that we’ve been sending them updates as it’s available as well,” he said.
First photo via @SteveML9022/Twitter