As our nation marks Veteran’s Day this Sunday, November 11th, we honor those who have served our country in the line of duty. Our veterans are all around us in Virginia, where the 4th district is home to one of the highest populations of veterans in the nation. I urge you all to pause and spend some time with a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. Whether still on active duty, the Reserves, or a former military member, these brave men and women have served their country and sacrificed so much for all of us. It is our responsibility to recognize their sacrifice and commitment, preserve the legacy of their service, and pass this on to future generations.
I hope you will use the opportunity Veterans Day gives you to take time to talk with a veteran and learn more about their service. It could be a family member, friend or someone you live near or work with that you think may have served but never took the time to ask. If you know a war veteran, please consider interviewing them or taking a picture and sending it to me at HonoringVeterans@mail.house.gov. If you are a military veteran, I’d also love to hear from you directly. I look forward to sharing many of the photos or anecdotes I receive.
I also suggest you all read and share stories on the Veterans History Project, which collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
To kick off this endeavor, here are two photos and an anecdote dear to my heart. My oldest son, Neil Forbes (below left) , spent eight years in the United States Army, serving in Korea, the 82nd Airborne Division and Virginia Army National Guard. My father, Malcolm Forbes, (below right) also served in the U.S. Army as a Military Police Officer in World War II.
Shortly before the Normandy invasion in 1944, (my father was not a very religious man at the time but he did carry a pocket-sized bible in his chest pocket) he prayed for God’s protection and promised God that if he made it home, he would make sure his family attended church every Sunday. Well, he made it home and he kept that promise. I cannot remember a Sunday that my Dad did not take my mother, my siblings and me to church. Although my father died many years ago, I still have his pocket bible. It is one of my most treasured possessions and it serves as a strong reminder of my dad’s service to his country.
Today, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released its jobs report for the month of October. According to the report, 171,000 were added to the economy; however, the unemployment rate rose from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent. I thought you would be interested in reading a jobs update for Virginia’s Fourth District.
There is a simple truth when it comes to job creation in America: real solutions create real growth that generates real jobs. In order to make this happen, government needs to get out of the way and provide the freedom for small businesses to work, earn, and achieve.
All across Virginia’s Fourth District, we have industries that are ripe for growth. The memo provides examples of how industries in Virginia have flourished when we’ve applied that simple truth. The case studies also show the potential for even more growth when government acts as an enabler rather than a barrier.
Companies across the 4th District are adding jobs, such as Rolls-Royce at Crosspointe Park in Prince George County, Capital One Financial Corp. in Chesterfield County and Sabra Dipping Company in Colonial Heights.
You can download the memo here or by clicking the report below. You can also view a text version on my website here.
State agencies are preparing for Hurricane Sandy in the following ways:
The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Emergency Response Team.
The Virginia Emergency Operations Center is coordinating the state's response with increased staffing available 24 hours a day.
Virginia State Police personnel have been placed on stand-by and will be pre-positioned to the areas where they will be needed based on the final projected path of the hurricane. The Virginia State Police Swift Water Rescue Team is standing by in strategic locations.
Chainsaw crews from the Virginia Department of Forestry are standing by with emergency response personnel and to help with debris removal.
Virginia Department of Transportation crews are ready to clear roads and ensure roads are safe for travel.
The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty and begin prepositioning resources.
The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating with hospitals and long-term care facilities to ensure that they are prepared for storm impacts.
For information about preparing for Hurricane Sandy and for regular updates, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov/. For general information about the storm, dial 211. The Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response, along with the Virginia Department of Transportation, has created preparedness videos on hurricane evacuations and emergency supplies that can be viewed on YouTube or at www.ReadyVirginia.gov. In addition, I have compiled a list of resources to help you this week before, during, and after the hurricane.
Family Emergency Plan. Make sure your family has a plan in case of an emergency. Before an emergency happens, sit down together and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supply kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster.
Options for Protection. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities.
Hurricane Safety Checklist. Review this Hurricane Safety Checklist from the American Red Cross to prepare for the dangers of a hurricane.
Subscribe to alert services. Many communities have developed systems that will send text messages or emails alerting you to local emergencies or bad weather. Check the community information page to find ways that you can be alerted for hurricane situations or sign up for local alerts:
Red Cross Southeastern Virginia Chapter American Red Cross
611 W. Brambleton Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510-1004
Greater Richmond Chapter American Red Cross
420 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Southside Area Chapter American Red Cross
3267 A South Crater Road
Petersburg, VA 23805
Key Twitter Handles to Follow for Constant Updates on Storm Recovery, Resources, and Progress:
Preparing for Power Outages. Dominion Power suggests updating your account with the phone number you plan to use when reporting your outage. This step will ensure immediate access of your account for faster reporting without having to speak to someone. Phone numbers can be updated on-line or by calling the special phone number update line - 1-800-222-0401. Make sure cell phones and laptops are fully charged so they can be used in the event of a power outage. Contact information for all electric companies who service Virginia is as follows:
Dominion Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative: 1-804-747-0592
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-800-367-2832
Prince George Electric Cooperative: 1-804-834-2424
Southside Electric Cooperative: 1-866-878-5514
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-888-335-0500
Columbia Gas of Virginia: 1-800-544-5606
During the storm, if electricity is interrupted. Dominion Power offers these practical tips for dealing with power outages during the storm.
-Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
-Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.
-Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
-Frozen food can last up to three days. It is safe to eat if it still has ice crystals at the center.
-If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.
The following questions will provide information on coping with power outages and staying updated on when power is expected to return.
How do I contact my electrical provider? Dominion Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP or 1-866-366-4357
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative: 1-804-747-0592
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-800-367-2832
Prince George Electric Cooperative: 1-804-834-2424
Southside Electric Cooperative: 1-866-878-5514
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: 1-888-335-0500
Columbia Gas of Virginia: 1-800-544-5606
I have health problems and need heating or air conditioning, who should I call? Contact your locality provided above. They will be able to provide you with essential resources.
What should I know about using a generator? Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but they also can be hazardous. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, fire and burns. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use. Most of the incidents associated with portable generators reported involve CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially-enclosed spaces.
Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test batteries monthly.
Generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution, especially if they are operated in wet conditions. If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect the generator from moisture to help avoid the shock/electrocution hazard, but do so without operating the generator indoors or near openings to any building that can be occupied in order to help avoid the CO hazard. Operate the generator under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle or drain under it. Dry your hands, if wet, before touching the generator.
Connect appliances to the generator using heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure the wattage rating for each cord exceeds the total wattage of all appliances connected to it. Use extension cords that are long enough to allow the generator to be placed outdoors and far away from windows, doors and vents to the home or to other structures that could be occupied. Check that the entire length of each cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs. Protect the cord from getting pinched or crushed if it passes through a window or doorway.
NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage.
Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
Once I have lost power, how long can I eat food that requires refrigeration?
Don’t eat anything you suspect of being spoiled. Remember the phrase: When in doubt, throw it out.
In a disaster cleanup, the last thing you want is to get sick from food poisoning. Remember to wash your hands often with purified water, and wash any body part that has been in contact with polluted water.
Food in an unopened freezer should stay frozen for about two days. Save that food for last, and don’t open the door until you have to.
Food in a refrigerator without power will stay cool for several hours. Consume perishables first, such as dairy products and meat. Grill your meats if possible because cooked meat stays edible longer than raw meat.
Eat sparingly and don’t open the refrigerator unless necessary
If food begins to turn moldy or smell bad, throw it away.
If you have food safety questions, you can "Ask Karen," the Food Safety and Inspection Service virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov.
Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to the appliance and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
Leave one lamp or light on so you will know when power is restored.
Listen to your local radio station on your car or battery-powered radio for regular news and weather updates.
Use a flashlight instead of a candle whenever possible.
Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, curtains, or flammable liquids.
Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily and are made from a material that can’t burn.
Keep candles out of reach of children.
Try to avoid carrying a lit candle.
Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment.
Fire can pose a major threat to an already badly damaged flood area because of inoperable fire-protection and firefighting water supply systems, hampered fire department response and flood-damaged fire-protection systems. To protect yourself against fires after a natural disaster, keep at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.
ESSENTIAL ITEMS LIKE WATER AND ICE
Where can I obtain ice and drinking water? You can find information on where to obtain ice and drinking water by contacting your locality at the phone number listed above.
Is it safe to drink well water? Owners of wells and septic systems should take extra precautions to protect their health, according to state health officials. Floodwaters may contain fecal matter from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural or industrial waste, according to Dr. Robert B. Stroube, state health commissioner.
Those who rely on private wells should consider the water contaminated if it was submerged during the hurricane. People should test the water for bacteria before drinking it. Health officials recommend two samples taken on consecutive days.
Owners of septic systems should inspect for damage and, if necessary, contact local health departments for decontamination instructions. Damaged septic systems can cause sewage to back up into homes, posing a risk of disease.
What do I do if I suspect price gouging? Virginia has an anti-price gouging law – the Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act – that is only activated by the declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor or the President of the United States covering areas in Virginia. This Act remains in effect in affected areas typically only for thirty (30) days immediately following the declaration of a state of emergency. The provisions of the Act apply to the price of motor fuels and other essential consumer goods and services in the affected area.
If you suspect price gouging in Virginia during a declared state of emergency, you may call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 552-9963, or you may report the incident utilizing the Price Gouging Report Form that is available from the website of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at www.vdacs.virginia.gov.
What do I need to keep in mind when returning home? Before entering, walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect a damaged home. The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
Do not enter if:
You smell gas.
Floodwaters remain around the building.
Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
The following items are other things to check inside your home:
Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s residence. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.
Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater.
Your basement. If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.
Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.
Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
How do I handle a downed tree that is touching power lines? Electricity can also travel through tree limbs. Never remove tree limbs or other items that are touching or near a downed wire. Instead, contact your electric company. Read more about tree-trimming services provided by Dominion here: http://www.dom.com/storm-center/tips-for-your-safety.jsp
What are some safety tips for using a chainsaw? Removing debris and tree branches may require the use of a chainsaw. It is important to use the following safety tips when operating a chainsaw:
Chainsaw operators must wear/use protective equipment, including:
Eye protection (safety glasses or goggles)
Leather work gloves
Cut-resistant leg wear (chaps, leggings, pants) with two-inch boot overlap
Sturdy boots, preferably steel-toed
Make sure the chain brake is on when:
Starting the saw
Both hands are not on the saw, or
Taking more than two steps
Before starting the saw:
Size up the tree
Watch for hazards around the tree
Cut only when it’s safe to do so
Starting the saw:
Place the saw on the ground
Place the toe of your boot through the back handle to hold the saw down
Hold the front handle with your left hand
Use your right hand to pull the start cord using a fast but short stroke.
What steps do I take following a flood? The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Avoid moving water.
Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
What should I do if driving and I come across flood conditions? The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
A foot of water will float many vehicles.
Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
Read more: http://www.ready.gov/floods
How do I clean a basement after a flood? Basements flooded with surface water, seepage through walls, or backflow from sewer lines often suffer little or no structural damage from the water, because the water inside braces the walls against the pressure of outside water and waterlogged soil.
How and when do I pump the water out?
Do not drain water inside the basement until most of the water on the outside of the walls has gone down. This will prevent the walls from being pushed in or the floors from heaving.
If you have a large amount of water in your basement or if there is no basement drain, you may need to buy or rent a sump pump to get rid of the water.
If your electrical panel is located in an area of your home that has been flooded, you will be unable to use an electric sump pump unless you use a pump driven a 12-volt auto battery. A gasoline engine pump may be used if exhaust can be vented to the outside.
Start pumping water out of your basement if the water inside is higher than the flood water level outside. You may need a measure to determine this.
Stop pumping when the two water levels become equal.
Pump the basement water out at the same rate at which the flood waters recede.
How should I clean the basement?
Shovel mud from the basement as soon as all water has drained or has been pumped out to allow floors and walls to dry.
Remove silt and dirt stains by rinsing concrete walls and masonry foundation walls with a high pressure hose.
If stains remain on the walls, scrub them with a stiff bristle brush and household detergent. Begin at the top and work down. Rinse often with clear water.
Start drying the basement as quickly as possible in order to minimize wood decay or growth of mold.
Open all doors and windows to allow the moisture to flow outside.
Buy or rent a fan or dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
If you are sensitive to mold or mildew, wear a mask or respirator containing an appropriate filter.
How do I get rid of odors? If ventilation does not remove odors:
Mop concrete floor and walls with a bleach solution (3/4 cups of household bleach to a gallon of water.)
Rinse and dry after 5 minutes.
Open windows when applying the bleach solution.
Place a lump of dry charcoal in an open tin/metal container to absorb odors.
Removing Mold from Your Home After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. Be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family, if your home has water damage due to:
Plumbing or roof leaks,
Damp basements or crawl space,
Overflows from sinks or bathtub, or
High humidity: steam cooking, dryer vents, humidifiers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes general background information about mold health hazards and mold safety recommendations. Read more:http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/protect.asp
How do I avoid electric hazards when cleaning up flooded areas?
If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Do not turn the power back on until electrical equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician.
Never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet, unless you are certain that the power is off.
Never touch a downed power line.
When using gasoline and diesel generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the off position prior to starting the generator.
If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines. Extreme caution is necessary when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid inadvertent contact.
Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
Thoroughly disinfect surfaces that come in contact with food and children’s play areas.
Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean.
Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, must be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant.
Steam-clean all carpeting.
Fiberboard, fibrous insulation and disposable filters that have contacted floodwater or sewage should be replaced in your heating and air conditioning system.
Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.
As you clean up your home, be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants, as combining certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items soaked by sewage or floodwaters may be unhealthy. In general, materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours should be discarded.
Read more: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/weather/PostStormCleanup.htm
How Do I Preserve Photos and Documents? These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family’s most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms.
How do I file a claim for flood damage? FEMA has established a step-by-step guide to help you properly submit a flood insurance claim.
If possible, photograph the outside of the premises, showing the any damage or flooding. Also, photograph the inside of the premises, showing the damaged property and the height of the water if your property was flooded.
Call your insurance agent to report your claim. If you have separate flood insurance, also call your flood insurance agent to report your claim. Your flood insurance agent will prepare a Notice of Loss form and an adjuster will be assigned to assist you.
Separate the damaged from the undamaged property and put it in the best possible order for the insurance adjuster's examination. If reasonably possible, protect the property from further damage.
When the adjuster visits your property, let him or her know if you need an advance or partial payment of loss. Again, good records can assist your insurance companies and the NFIP in giving you an advance payment. Use your inventory to work with the adjuster in presenting your claim.
Damaged property which presents a health hazard or which may hamper local clean-up operations should be disposed of. Be sure to adequately describe and photograph discarded items so that, when the adjuster examines your losses and your records, these articles are included in the documentation.
Good records speed up settlement of your claim. Compile a room-by-room inventory of damaged goods, and include manufacturer's names, dates and places of purchases, and prices. Try to locate receipts or proofs of purchase, especially for major appliances, and note manufacturers' names, serial numbers, prices, and dates of purchase.
Where can I find basic roadway information? Real-time listings of road conditions in Virginia are available on VDOT’s 24-hour traffic and travel information website, www.511Virginia.org or by calling 511. Current road closure information can be found on the website.
Hampton Roads area traffic information is available on Twitter: @511hamptonroads. Richmond area traffic information can be found on Twitter @511centralVA. For general VDOT information, follow @VaDOT.
Where do I report road problems? You can report road problems to any of the following:
What do I do if a traffic signal is out? If a traffic signal is out, drivers are advised to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
Where do I report a downed tree or other roadway hazard? VDOT is working in partnership with utility companies and emergency responders to access the affected areas and remove obstructions as quickly as possible to restore all travel lanes to service. VDOT’s Customer Service Center is open 24 hours a day to answer questions and take reports of road debris, downed trees, traffic signal repair requests, or other roadway hazards at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).
What safety precautions should I follow? Motorists are encouraged to take the following precautions:
Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.
Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.
Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause you to lose control and hydroplane.
Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas. Water in those areas can rise quickly and without warning during heavy rains.
In the event of a flash flood warning for your area, seek high ground immediately.
Watch for debris on the roadway. If you encounter a downed power line, do not try to move the line. Downed trees may contain power lines. Contact VDOT or your local power company.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH SERVICE MEMBERS
I am a service member or family member of a service member. How can I send an urgent message to a service member? The Red Cross is the official liaison between the military and their families for transmitting emergency family messages. When a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to help. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea. More information can be found here: http://www.hrredcross.org/send-a-message
To send a message to a service member contact the American Red Cross toll free at 877-272-7337.
When calling the Red Cross, please provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known:
Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
Social Security Account number or date of birth
Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)
I am a military family member and my service member is on a ship sortied out of Norfolk. How do I make sure they are ok? How do I find out when they will be home? For the most up to date information on specific ship’s condition and schedule contact your Command Ombudsman or Family Readiness Group.
In general, you should contact your insurance company immediately to find out whether damage is covered, how long you have to file a claim, whether you claim exceeds your deductible, and whether you’ll need to get estimates for repairs. The following information provided by the Insurance Information Institute (III) may be helpful in dealing with insurance.
How do I know what will be compensated for damage? Vehicles:If your car was damaged and you have comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, contact your auto insurance company. If your car has been so badly damaged that it's not worth repairing, you will receive a check for the car's actual cash value -- what it would have been worth if it had been sold just before the disaster. Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) or other such publications can give you an idea of what your car was worth.
Trees and shrubbery: According to the III,most insurance companies will pay some amount for the removal of trees or shrubs that have fallen on your home. They will also pay for damage caused to insured structures and their contents up to policy limits, but they won't pay to remove trees that have fallen causing a mess in your yard.
Water:While homeowners policies don't cover flood damage, they cover other kinds of water damage. For example, they will generally pay for damage from rain coming through a hole in the roof or a broken window as long as the hole was caused by a hurricane or other disaster covered by the policy. If there is water damage, check with your agent or insurance company representative as to whether it is covered.
Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster, who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the damage. Make sure you give your agent a telephone number where you can be reached.
If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Make two copies—one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.
Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
Make whatever temporary repairs you can without endangering yourself. Cover broken windows and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.
America’s Navy now stands at 285 ships, the smallest Navy since 1917 when measuring fleet size in terms of number of ships. Over the past decade the Navy has called for and planned towards a variety of different shipbuilding plans, all of which are larger than the roughly 300-ship Navy the President now says we need. For instance, in 2002 the Navy put forward a goal for a fleet size of 375 ships and since 2006 it has been pursuing a goal of 313 ships. Furthermore, a bi-partisan panel of defense experts concluded in 2010 that a fleet of approximately 350- ships was necessary to meet America's security demands.
Today's ships are most certainly more technologically-capable than they were in the early 20th century, but numbers still matter. A ship can still only be in one place at one time and demand for Navy assetscontinues to grow. Between 2007 and 2012, for instance, the demand for ships has increased from 20,068 operational days to 32,915 days.
Perhaps most importantly, the small size of the fleet has serious implications for our sailors and their families. Despite a requirement for Navy ships to be deployed for six months, deployments of seven months or more have become regular occurrences. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, has publicly stated that "we can’t run at that rate,” but admitted that seven to seven-and-a-half month deployments will become the new norm because of the increased demands on our fleet. These longer deployments also threaten to wear out the fleet before the end of its intended service life, driving up maintenance costs or forcing ships back to sea with low readiness levels.
( ) Greater stresses on our sailors and their families.
( ) The Navy can be fewer places and do fewer things, even though demand for Navy ships is increasing.
( ) Longer deployments and more maintenance costs for the fleet and the taxpayer.
( ) None. Our Navy is more capable than it was a century ago.
( ) Other – (Share your thoughts below).
Yesterday, I hosted a Panama Canal Roundtable in Suffolk with Senator John Boozman (AR) to bring experts in international shipping, trade, and transport together to discuss how Virginia and the rest of the country can work together to prepare for the impending expansion of the Panama Canal, a “game changer” for the ports on the East Coast. In attendance were Jim Cheng, Virginia Commerce Secretary, several of our mayors, Virginia Port Authority Commissioners, Colonel Paul Olsen, Army Corps of Engineers, Representatives from the American Trucking Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and industry representatives from CSX, Maersk, Norfolk Southern, Target, Walmart and more.
Out of an interesting discussion, three highlights emerged.
1. The post-Panamax ships are coming and we need to be prepared for that. The future of international shipping is moving towards these larger post-Panamax ships that can handle up to ten times the carrying capacity of previously used vessels. The Panama Canal expansion is due to be completed by the end of 2015 and currently, the Port of Virginia is the only East Coast port prepared to accept these giant ships, which require deeper channels, wider berths, larger turning basins and expanded dock capacity . Colonel Olsen, the Norfolk District Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers predicted that 62 percent of container ships will be post-Panamax class by 2030. This capability, partnered with the Port of Virginia’s rail and truck access that allows goods off-loaded at the port to be transported to two-thirds of the U.S. population within 24 hours, puts the Commonwealth in an especially advantageous position to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion.
2. Our interconnectivity underscores the importance of strong partnerships. Ships will only come to the Port of Virginia if the channel is deep enough and the port can receive and process their cargo timely and efficiently. Transportation companies – such as rail and trucking companies - can only deliver goods if adequate highway, tunnel and rail infrastructure exists to handle the larger payloads. Retailers and small businesses can only succeed if they can acquire their goods economically and in a timely manner. All these businesses depend in some way on each other to sell goods to consumers and the efficiency in which they do has a huge effect on how much you, the end consumer will pay for them. We must ensure that government regulation is minimal and helps, not hurts these businesses, who ultimately pass on these costs to consumers.
3. We need to be more strategic and forward thinking. We need to look further than six months in the future to fully take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by things like the Panama Canal expansion. It’s not just enough for the ports to be ready to accept the larger ships, but the highway and rail access needs to be prepared ahead-of time. We need to protect the jobs we have and take advantage of opportunities for new ones. The Port of Virginia’s rail and truck access that allows goods off-loaded at the port to be transported to two-thirds of the U.S. population within 24 hours, puts the Commonwealth in an especially advantageous position to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion but how we adapt to the changes that are in motion will determine how we capitalize on these opportunities.
Watch WAVY-TV’s coverage of yesterday’s roundtable here.
The WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote a memorandum late last month detailing that the government would compensate contractors for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under "sequestration" on January 2, 2012. The memorandum said that if plant closings or mass layoffs occur under sequestration, then “employee compensation costs for WARN act liability as determined by a court” would be paid for by the contracting federal agency.
Senator McCain estimated that legal fees could total $4 billion and pledged to deny any transfers of defense dollars to reimburse contractors for costs that could have been avoided simply by complying with the WARN Act.
Question of the week: Do you support the administration using taxpayer dollars to re-imburse legal fees to defense companies for failure to comply with the law?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) Other (leave your comments below)
This week, one Border Patrol agent was wounded and another was killed in Arizona near the Mexico border. According to news reports, the agents had been responding to a tripped ground sensor in a drug trafficking corridor. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer criticized “the federal failure and political stalemate that has left our border unsecured and our Border Patrol in harm’s way.”
In June, President Obama announced that his administration would grant temporary amnesty from deportation to young people brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents, if they met certain criteria. To qualify for the program, illegal immigrants must be under 31 years old and have come to the U.S. before they were 16. Applicants are required to show that they have lived here continuously since June 15, 2007, and be currently in school or have earned a high school diploma, or have been honorably discharged from the military. Additionally, they must pass a background check to show they do not have any significant criminal record or pose a threat to national security.
Additionally, in July, it was announced that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is closing 9 border patrol stations in California, Montana, Idaho and Texas. The stations were reportedly closed in order to reassign agents to higher-priority areas closer to the border.
Opponents of these decisions have criticized the administration for thwarting Congress’ constitutional authority to enact laws regarding immigration, including whether taxpayers would be responsible for covering the cost of the deferred deportation program, how the Department of Homeland Security will prevent fraud and abuse in the process of verifying applications, and how officials would be able to continue border security and enforce federal immigration laws.
Question of the week:Which immigration reform proposals do you support? (Multi-Answer)
( ) Stricter enforcement of existing laws combating illegal immigration
( ) Enhanced border security
( ) Focusing more resources on border states
( ) Allowing states to enact immigration laws
( ) Making it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship
( ) Enhanced focus on deportation of illegal immigrants
( ) Granting amnesty to the children of illegal immigrants
( ) Ending birthright citizenship amnesty
( ) Eliminating the per-country caps on employment-based green cards
( ) Requiring all U.S. employers to use E-Verify
( ) Providing green cards for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
( ) Decreasing the immigration application backlog
( ) Easing the adoption process for foreign children adopted by U.S. citizens
( ) Other (share your thoughts below)
The bad news first: The College Board, which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), announced this week that only 43% of those in the class of 2012 graduates finished high school prepared for a college curriculum. (The College Board measured college readiness by meeting a SAT benchmark score of 1550.) The average SAT reading (verbal) scores have decreased significantly over the last forty years. Nationally, 44% of high-school freshmen go on to attend college and 21% earn a bachelor's degree in six years, the College Board reported.
Fortunately, there is also good news: Virginia’s 2012 college-bound high school seniors graduating from public schools outperformed the national averages by 17 points. The College Board’s report also indicated that 40 percent of test-takers in Virginia were minorities. State rankings will be updated early next year but Virginia ranked third in the nation in achievement on Advanced Placement examinations.
Congressman Forbes believes that responsibility for student achievement is best handled by the states and individual school districts, in order to enhance local flexibility, protect taxpayers’ investments in education, and strengthen state and local autonomy. Read more about his work on education here.
Tragically, on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya, the United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were murdered. This was the first U.S. Ambassador who had been murdered since 1979.
These deaths occurred amidst angry and sometimes violent anti-American protests near U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East in the countries like Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia. In some cases, protesters were burning American flags and effigies of President Obama.
( ) Tether foreign aid to pro-democracy, religious freedoms and human rights benchmarks
( ) Reduce or eliminate foreign aid
( ) Sever diplomatic ties and/or remove embassy staffs
( ) Bolster embassy security with elite Marine units
( ) Continue engagement with these foreign governments to combat terrorism and promote democracy.
( ) I don't know.
( ) Other. (Please share your comments and ideas on my blog below).
The debt ceiling, currently set at $16.394 trillion, is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. It appears inevitable that within a few months, Congress will have to vote again on whether to increase the debt ceiling.
Our debt and deficit problem in the U.S. has not gotten better - it has gotten worse. Failing to take action to cut current spending, restrict future spending, and improve federal budgeting will continue to worsen our nation’s fiscal condition.
The Heritage Foundation dissects our debt issue here.