Get information before, after disaster
When a hurricane, snowstorm or other disaster threatens, stay up-to-date with the latest local information. For the record, you can get information in a variety of ways:
- Sign up for notifications at www.hampton.gov/notifyme. Select “top news” and “emergency alerts,” and whether you want email or text notifications.
- Get a weekly news and events newsletter at www.hampton.gov/enews.
- Watch the city’s social media accounts: Facebook page and Twitter (@cityofhampton).
- Download the city’s website app (search for Hampton VA in app stores), or the 3-1-1 app (311 Hampton VA in stores).
- Connect with the Hampton Police Division’s social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
- Watch Hampton’s cable station, (Cox 47 or Verizon 22).
- Call 3-1-1 (727-8311 from a cell phone).
- Local TV stations will usually broadcast closing and evacuation information.
- WHOV 88.1 FM will broadcast Hampton-specific information in a disaster.
- If a disaster causes an extended power outage, the city has a plan to print information and distribute it to yellow publication boxes and public sites in affected areas.
Q: Will the city monitor social media to receive information?
A: Residents can share information with each other and the city via our Facebook page. Please add comments on the official posts about flooded roads, traffic light outages, storm drain problems, etc. We will report those to the Emergency Operations Center staff.
If a disaster is so severe that people can’t get through to 911, police will also monitor Twitter and Facebook.
Q: What about the social media site Nextdoor?
A: Both the city and Police Division can post to the neighborhood website Nextdoor; however, we can’t read all posts there, so it’s not a good way to get information to us.
Q: How can I report problems if I don’t use social media?
A: If the situation is life-threatening, call 911. Otherwise, call 3-1-1 (757-727-8311 from a cell phone) to ask questions or report issues. You can also use the 3-1-1 app to send photos of flooded roads or other problems.
Q: How does the city handle evacuations?
A: There are various levels. City officials may recommend that people who live in certain areas — usually the lowest-lying areas — voluntarily leave. They may also issue a mandatory evacuation order for that zone, or the two most vulnerable zones.
Q: How do I know what zone I am in?
A: All the hurricane zone maps have been updated in partnership with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. You can go to their site — www.knowyourzoneva.org — and type in your address where prompted. You can also view a map of the entire city online.
Q: When would evacuations be ordered, if they are going to be?
A: There isn’t a set timetable. The National Hurricane Center says it has high confidence on forecasts three days out, but beyond that, a storm’s path is subject to major changes. Even in the three-day window, forecasters identify a wide potential path often referred to as the “cone of uncertainty.” Small changes in water current or temperature can make a big difference in a storm. Generally, it is best to leave 72 hours before landfall — if possible — to avoid traffic jams and to have reasonable access to fuel for your vehicle.
Q: Where are the shelters that will be opened, and when will they open?
A: Those decisions are made based on several factors: storm path and intensity; flooding levels; and timing. Many buildings used as shelters are schools and require coordination with school officials. Frequently, the city will offer a shelter that is pet-friendly. Residents should watch Hampton.gov or the city’s Facebook page to see if and when shelters will be available.
Q: What does it mean if a “state of emergency” is declared?
A: The legal declaration allows the city to get assistance from the state and federal governments and to suspend some normal operations. It is also a signal to the public that the event is potentially very serious.
Q: What if an evacuation is mandatory and I don’t leave?
A: We will do our best to notify areas of the city where an evacuation is mandatory. At a certain point in a hurricane, first responders will be ordered off the roads and into shelters for their own safety. Residents who refuse to evacuate should not assume that rescuers will be available to get to them as conditions worsen.
Q: How will we get information if the outage is extended and we don’t have TV, internet or phones?
A: The city has a plan to place yellow plastic publication boxes in various areas to distribute flyers and other information. We won’t be able to announce locations in advance, because we don’t know what areas will be affected. Boxes will most likely be at city buildings — fire stations, schools, community centers, etc.
Posted Oct. 11, 2017; updated Aug. 22, 2018