The Richmond region escaped Hurricane Dorian with minimal damage. But southeastern Virginia was right in its path.

Before the storm lashed Hampton Roads with strong winds, inland flooding, coastal storm surges and power outages for thousands, Gov. Ralph Northam and state officials rolled out a plan last week to advance Virginia’s ability to respond to all natural disasters.

“Keeping Virginia families, businesses, and communities safe in the event of a hurricane or extreme weather starts with having the plans and infrastructure in place to support emergency operations,” Northam said in a statement.

The Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP) is a platform to stay prepared. Every four years, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management presents the plan to the governor, detailing the role each state agency plays in responding to natural disasters, from transportation to social services to the Virginia State Police.

Through two executive orders signed by the governor, the latest COVEOP is poised to have more speed and clarity. The first one outlines state agency responsibilities, ranging from emergency response contracts to appointments of liaisons and public information officers to work with state support and communications teams. The second one reduces red tape attached to disaster recovery efforts, waiving some registration, licensing and permit rules.

While Hurricane Dorian is out to sea, the Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, with a peak period through late October. Every Virginian can stay prepared by visiting VAemergency.gov/make-a-plan.

Chris Gentilviso

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