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Hazard Mitigation Plan Comment Board

Please utilize the Hazard Mitigation Plan Comment Board to submit comments related to the draft Northern Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan 2010 Update. All submitted comments will be considered prior to the City’s finalization of the Plan.

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Missing from the plan is any reference to "extreme space weather" (aka, solar storms or superstorms).

These have the potential to significantly disrupt national and regional communications systems, including both terrestrial and satellite-based.

Sensitive electronics and controls have been disrupted by major solar storms in the recent past: FEMA highlights the March, 1989 solar storm that collapsed the Quebec electrical power grid and the 2003 "Halloween Storms" that interrupted GPS, blacked out HF radio, and forced emergency procedures at nuclear power plants in Canada and the Northeastern US.

I suggest that severe space weather/major solar storms be included in the area's hazard mitigation planning.

Harley (249) | User | August 8, 2011 - 4:37 PM

Comment on disaster mitigation.

A wider public policy issue for consideration has to do with eliminating above-ground overhead utility wires and poles by investing in the appropriate infrastructure; i.e. undergrounding all overhead utility wires.
Some argue that it is cost prohibitive, but the issue is a long-term investment.
After every large storm, typically there is a power outage. Though we appreciate the power companies’ response and the neighborhoods pulling together, once we are back on the power grid we should consider the next time.
Outages are caused by downed trees/utility poles, so federal, state, and local governments should consider a strategic public policy plan whereby all overhead utility wires are undergrounded like most major urban centers in the U.S.. This would be an investment to avoid a recurrence of this problem.
After the spring storm of last year in Alexandria, a utility pole went down in front of my house. Power crews toiled for three days to restore power from two decrepit and splintered 1940s era utility poles that crashed down across the street.
To make sure the poles would not come down again, the crews installed bigger and thicker poles that take up half of the 4-foot wide sidewalks. Now the sidewalk is barely passable and do not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards; thus compounding the problem.
The utility companies are not coordinating their work with the city’s pedestrian-friendly transportation plan to make sidewalks passable and accessible; another reason to underground the utilities.
In Alexandria utility poles run alongside and under branches of street trees that collapse in rain storms and take out the power lines. The utility companies that trim these trees annually actually make them more prone to collapse, as they are made into giant Y-shaped unstable trees that easily split and collapse in even the slightest wind and rainstorm.
The result is millions of dollars worth of lost power, lost revenue, lost time, lost food, lost productivity and a tremendous inconvenience and danger from downed wires, collapsed poles, blocked streets, and out-of-order traffic lights.
A cost-benefit analysis may indeed reveal that it is more cost effective to underground utilities vice the cost of lost revenue. Alexandria should consider using federal stimulus money for some good infrastructure use and underground all utility wires.
We need to consider the short-term cost as an investment to avoid the long-term headache, inconvenience, and loss of revenue. A comprehensive plan to underground now will end the possibility of power loss to the whim of the next storm.

Thank you.

Paul (245) | User | July 29, 2011 - 4:06 PM

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