Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Virginia’s Hurricane Tax Holiday is May 25-31: Get Ready Now for Hurricane and Flood Season

RICHMOND, VA – June 1 marks the start of hurricane season, and Virginians should take steps now to prepare their families and businesses. Regardless of where you live in the Commonwealth, the flood risk and property loss associated with hurricanes and tropical storms is high.

“It is so important that every Virginian treat hurricane season seriously,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Hurricane season is flood season. No part of Virginia is safe from flooding because seasonal heavy rains and slow moving tropical systems can affect any part of the state.”

National Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 24-30, an excellent opportunity for all Virginia families to take three simple, low-cost steps to get ready: get a kit, make a plan and stay informed. This year, the Ready Virginia campaign is focusing on teaching families how to make a plan. For hurricane season, families should learn their designated evacuation routes, decide on an evacuation destination and collect emergency contact information. Go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov for downloadable family plan worksheets.
Residents living in coastal and inland communities will benefit from Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, set for May 25-31.

During that week, no sales tax will be charged on the purchase of many items that can be used to prepare homes for hurricane and flood season and to fill emergency supply kits. Among the exempt items are bottled water; flashlights; batteries including cell phone batteries; food and beverage storage coolers; battery-powered or hand-crank radios, two-way radios, weather band radios and NOAA Weather Radios; cell phone chargers; carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; first aid kits; tarps, plastic sheeting, drop cloths and duct tape; artificial ice; empty gas, propane or diesel fuel tanks or containers; and generators. For a complete list and details go to www.tax.virginia.gov.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, which produced torrential rains in the mountains of Virginia. Although Camille was a tropical depression when it hit Virginia, Nelson County recorded 27 inches of rainfall. Flash flooding killed at least 150 people and injured another 100 in the Commonwealth. “The message for us in Virginia is that even a significantly weakened tropical system can have deadly consequences,” said Bill Sammler, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Fortunately, we now have NOAA Weather Radios, NWS Doppler radar and many other communication technologies that did not exist in 1969. But people still need to prepare their families and their homes and businesses because property damage can be severe during hurricane and flood season.”