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Sun glare with clouds (via Ritam Baishya/Unsplash)

With the D.C. area’s summer heat in full swing, local organizers worry that there are too few options for unhoused residents in the county to cool down.

Last month, the Fairfax County NAACP approved a resolution calling on Fairfax County to improve heat relief services for low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness in the county.

“Summer temperatures and storm frequencies are increasing due to climate change, thus homeless people are at greater risk of health impacts and even death,” says the resolution approved by the civil rights organization’s executive committee on July 28.

Potential solutions proposed by the resolution include a pilot program like D.C.’s heat emergency plan, better communication of hours and locations for the county’s cooling centers, vouchers to families for motel rooms, and distributions of water bottles, personal fans, and sunscreen at government centers.

In response to the resolution, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee directed the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide the county’s current heat emergency plan.

In a memo dated July 29, DHHS listed a number of options available for cooling down. It also agreed to “enhance our efforts” and enact more “immediate action” for the county’s unhoused residents in need of relief from the August heat and humidity:

This work includes addressing transportation access gaps, evaluating both the variety and coordination of supply disbursements (both direct provision and at our cooling sites), considering the use of hotel vouchers in the event overflow shelters are at capacity, and providing a more robust communications plan as well as additional opportunities to provide direct communication outreach to individuals in need.

Additionally, NAACP officials tell FFXnow that a committee will meet tomorrow (Aug. 12) to discuss more solutions and ways to better help those in need.

Mary Paden, who chairs the NAACP’s Fair and Affordable Housing Committee, says she’s encouraged by the county’s willingness to listen and work with the group. But action needs to happen now, considering there are likely plenty of very hot days still left in the summer.

“Many [unhoused residents] are older and sick and are more affected by the heat than a younger, healthier person,” Paden said. “It took deaths for the hypothermia program to get set up in the winter…and you wonder if we have to wait for a death to get really serious about taking care of people in the heat.” Read More

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A giant inflatable duck looking cool in a pool (via john labelette/Unsplash)

It’s August, and we have fully arrived at the hell’s front porch portion of the D.C. area’s seasonal cycle.

Over the past week or so, thermometers have been clocking in the upper 80s and 90s, but with the humidity adding an extra 10 degrees to every day, the summer heat offers an almost tangible reminder that, despite all the concrete, asphalt and landscaped lawns, Fairfax County is still a wetland at heart.

Like other kinds of extreme weather, heat can be dangerous, contributing to hundreds of deaths per year in the U.S., and climate change will likely push that toll higher.

To take your mind off the prospect of hot, muggy days becoming even more of a norm in the future, what’s your go-to method of handling this summer weather? Do you try to escape with a vacation, or are you more apt to seek relief at the nearest swimming pool or ice cream shop?

If you have other tips and secrets for cooling off, feel free to share them below.

Photo via john labelette/Unsplash

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Condensation on a window at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna (file photo)

August has definitely arrived in the D.C. area, with another day in store for tomorrow (Thursday).

Like the rest of the region, Fairfax County will be under a Heat Advisory from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service’s alert, the heat index — which combines heat and humidity — could reach up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to potentially lead to heat-related illnesses.

Fortunately, the NWS has some advice:

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.

Fairfax County has several facilities designated as cooling centers, including its two government centers, libraries, community centers, rec centers, and emergency shelters for those experiencing homelessness.

“Resting for just two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce heat-related illnesses,” the county said in an emergency information blog post.

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Morning Notes

A flock of birds flies over Route 123 in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — For Fairfax County property owners, it’s the final day to send in the first installment of your annual real estate taxes, which saw significant increases this year even with a 3-cent reduction in the county’s rate. Payments can be made to the Department of Tax Administration by phone, mail, drop box, mobile app and online. [DTA]

Springfield Man Convicted in 2020 Murder — A jury convicted Carlington Fitz Auther Campbell yesterday (Wednesday) for shooting and killing Anthony Sullivan outside a West Springfield apartment in November 2020, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced. Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder and a weapons charge, which carry possible prison sentences of five to 40 years and three years, respectively. [WUSA9]

Decision on Mosaic District Skating Rink Postponed — “Because of some public pushback, unresolved questions and a legal-advertising snafu, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on July 13 deferred until September its decision on whether to allow temporary ice- and roller-skating rinks in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax City Veterinarian Helps Ukraine Animal Shelters — “Dr. Courtney Katsur chokes up when she describes what she saw while volunteering for two weeks in Ukraine. The veterinarian with Town & Country Animal Hospital in Fairfax tried for months to find a way to get to the war zone to help animals she was seeing in the news.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Clinics Available for Required Student Vaccinations — “Before students return to school in late August, families can check to ensure their students are up to date on immunizations required at Fairfax County Public Schools. The Fairfax County Health Department is offering appointments at upcoming immunization clinics.” [Patch]

Inova to Rebrand Urgent Care Centers With Partnership — Inova Health System will soon let patients make appointments, check wait times and more through the on-demand health care platform GoHealth Urgent Care. Announced yesterday (Wednesday), the joint venture will convert seven existing Inova Urgent Care locations in Northern Virginia into Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care centers later this year, with additional locations planned. [Inova]

Penn Daw Firefighters Help Mow Lawn — “Recently, Station 11, Penn Daw, B-Shift responded to a routine EMS incident for an elderly gentleman experiencing distress while mowing his lawn on one of the hottest days of the year. The #FCFRD crew assisted the gentlemen, and then completed mowing his lawn prior to leaving.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Park Authority Fall Registration Begins Next Week — “Fairfax County Park Authority registration for fall classes and programs opens Aug. 2, 2022. Fall classes will be in full swing with programs at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools. Virtual classes are available for those who prefer or cannot attend in person.” [FCPA]

McLean Lidl Hosts Kids’ Drawing Contest — “Lidl is holding a drawing competition for children at its new McLean store as part of a benefit for the SHARE of McLean food bank. Starting Wednesday, children can participate in the drawing competition, with a chance to win a $100 Lidl gift card…Once the competition closes on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Lidl will narrow down the entries and ask McLean community members to vote for their favorite piece of art.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Birds perched on a ledge in the Fair Lakes area (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County NAACP Calls for Action on Heat — “It is Too HOT for people to be outside all day and all night. Fairfax County needs to create and publicize more cooling options for homeless and low-income residents NOW. See the full Fairfax NAACP resolution” [Fairfax County NAACP/Twitter]

Stolen Laptops Were Wiped Clean, FCPS Says — “The Fairfax County Police Department has made a number of arrests in connection to the theft of approximately 35,000 laptops from a warehouse. We want to let you know that the laptops had been stripped of all data and their hard drives in preparation for their auction and that, as a result, no student data was compromised in this theft.” [FCPS]

FCPS Students See Progress With Free Online Tutoring — “In Fairfax County, Virginia, the academic backlog became more evident than ever with the complete return of children to the classroom last fall. Students are lagging behind in math, language arts, English, and social skills. The solution? Since April, an online tutoring service has been made available to more than 180,000 students, 25% of whom are Latino.” [DCist]

New Metro GM Takes Charge — “New Metro General Manager Randy Clarke began his role at the transit agency Monday, marking the end of a leadership vacuum that was created during a tumultuous spring…Clarke on Monday said his priorities will be improving service frequency and ensuring customer safety ahead of addressing longer-term goals, such as finances and the agency’s business model.” [The Washington Post]

Fundraiser Up for Family of Woman Killed in Springfield — “An online fundraising campaign was launched to help the family of Evelin Cali, a Springfield woman who was killed in her home on [July 17]. The family plans to use the funds to cover the cost of Cali’s funeral. Fairfax County Police have charged Cali’s husband, Jose Hernandez Mejia, in her stabbing death.” [Patch]

Police Investigate Reston Stabbing — “Around 2:23 a.m., on July 15, two men confronted the victim in the 1800 block of Sycamore Valley Drive in Reston, according to police. One of the men then stabbed the victim in the upper body. The victim was later treated for non-life-threatening injuries.” [Patch]

Swap Plant Seeds at Library in Rose Hill — “Do you have extra seedlings, #Fairfax? On the hunt for different varieties of plants to add to your collection? Bring your cuttings, seeds, seedlings, transplants & garden supplies to our John Marshall branch Saturday for a community plant swap.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 81 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:06 am and sunset at 8:27 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The sun sets behind layers of buildings and clouds (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County and the surrounding area are under a Heat Advisory today (Thursday), as temperatures are expected to feel like it’s above 100 degrees outside.

The advisory begins at 11 a.m. and will remain in effect until 8 p.m. as temperatures in the upper 90s, combined with humidity, will have heat index values around 105 degrees. The hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur, the advisory warns.

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.

Cooling centers are available in Fairfax County for those who need a place to escape the heat.

The National Weather Service also says there’s a chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m.

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A Flood Watch has been issued for the D.C. area on July 6 (via National Weather Service/Twitter)

Updated at 2:25 p.m. — The Flood Watch has been extended to 5 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday), per Fairfax County.

Earlier: A Flood Watch is on the horizon for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

The National Weather Service issued an alert at 5:20 a.m. today (Wednesday), warning that storms may lead to flash flooding starting around 3 p.m. The watch is currently set to remain in effect until 3 a.m. tomorrow.

Here is more from the alert:

* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise rapidly out of their banks. Flooding may occur quickly in poor drainage and urban areas.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…

– Multiple rounds of scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms are likely this afternoon and tonight. The most likely time period for thunderstorms producing heavy rain and potential flash flooding is this evening, but thunderstorms could develop as early as this afternoon, and may linger well into the night. Several inches of rain is possible in a short period of time, which would cause rapid rises of water.

Despite the risk of rain, the region’s usual July heat and humidity are out in full force, with temperatures potentially reaching the low 90s. The heat index is expected to peak near 100 degrees, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

“If possible, make sure to stay hydrated and in shaded or air-conditioned places. Also check on your friends and neighbors,” the department said.

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include fainting or dizziness, muscle cramps, and nausea or vomiting.

Image via National Weather Service/Twitter

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Morning Notes

The U.S. flag flies outside the Freeman Store and Museum in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Expands FOIA Staffing and Budget — “Fairfax County Public School added half a million dollars in this year’s budget to keep up with public records requests, which have more than tripled since 2016 and gotten broader in scope. The increase comes as the school system finds itself the subject of political vitriol over COVID precautions and racial equity programs, among other issues.” [DCist]

Vermont Senator Falls at McLean Home — “U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was set to undergo surgery Thursday after he broke his hip in a fall at his home, according to his spokesman. The 82-year-old Democrat fell Wednesday night in McLean, Virginia, a statement Thursday morning said.” [Associated Press]

Dr. Scott Brabrand on Tenure as FCPS Superintendent — “Brabrand, who was hired as superintendent in 2017, concludes his five-year stint Thursday, when Michelle Reid is scheduled to take the oath of office and serve as his successor…His tenure, which aimed at improving diversity among school staff and working to improve student outcomes, was interrupted by a pandemic that Brabrand called — next to school integration — the biggest event to impact public education in its history.” [WTOP]

DOJ Sues to Stop Merger of Tysons and Reston Companies — “The Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.’s proposed acquisition of EverWatch Corp., a Reston cybersecurity contractor…alleging the deal would drive up prices for the government and stifle competition for some work with the National Security Agency.” [Washington Business Journal]

Expansion of Metrobus Student Program Approved — “Students from Annandale High School, Falls Church High School, Marshall High School and the Davis Center will join students at Justice High School in participating in the free student bus pass program using Metrobus. These expanded options for Metrobus will be available for the 2022-2023 school year.” [Patch]

Mantua House Fire Started by Car Engine — Firefighters extinguished a fire that started in the garage of a two-story house in the 3200 block of Barbara Lane on Tuesday (June 28). Started accidentally in a vehicle engine compartment, the fire displaced two residents and caused approximately $182,500 in damages, including the loss of the vehicle. [FCFRD]

County Offers to Help Residents Keep Cool — “Do you need help avoiding the heat this summer? Cooling Assistance is a program designed to help keep vulnerable Fairfax County residents cool during the summer months Applications are now being accepted through August 15.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County’s interactive climate map shows heat and flooding conditions (via Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination)

As Fairfax County finalizes its first-ever plan to address the future effects of climate change, community members can see how the phenomenon already affects them with a newly released interactive map.

Launched last week, the climate map depicts heat and flooding data that can be viewed in conjunction with maps of the county’s population and infrastructure, including roads, utilities, and public facilities.

“The Fairfax County interactive climate map is a dynamic tool showcasing some of the best available data we have to date on climate impacts in our community,” Matt Meyers, the climate planning division director for the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, said. “The map is meant to inform and empower county residents, business owners, and community leaders to actively prepare for and participate in resilience efforts on a local level.”

The map offers a clear illustration of the heat island effect, showing that average daytime temperatures are higher in more populated and developed areas along major highways, like Tysons, Reston, the Fair Lakes and Fair Oaks area, and the Route 1 corridor.

Flooding appears to be most intense in the southeast part of the county, with waters from the Potomac River and Occoquan Bay overflowing onto Belle Haven, Lorton, Mason Neck, and Fort Belvoir. If sea levels rise a foot, Mason Neck will noticeably shrink. If they rise three feet, the Route 1 ramps to I-495 at the Alexandria border will be submerged.

Mason Neck with a 1-foot rise in sea level (via Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination)

The OEEC developed the map using information gathered through its Resilient Fairfax initiative, which started last year to establish a Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan intended to reduce and prepare the county for the damages that will come with a rapidly warming Earth.

So far, the initiative has produced:

The Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan will be finalized and presented to the Board of Supervisors for acceptance this fall, according to OEEC spokesperson Ali Althen.

The climate map uses the same data that went into the projections report and risk assessment, but it’s narrower in scope, focusing on current flood and heat information with some indicators of future conditions, such as “projected sea level rise and coastal storm surge,” the OEEC says.

With marginalized communities facing the most severe consequences from climate change, the map also incorporates data from the county’s Vulnerability Index, which scored different areas based on residents’ income, education, homeownership, and other socioeconomic factors.

The OEEC says it’s important for residents to understand what climate hazards are in store for the county so they can get involved in efforts to address those impacts. In Belle Haven, for instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already proposed building a wall to mitigate flooding.

“Awareness is the first step toward climate readiness, and we hope this tool will allow users to grow in their understanding of the risks facing Fairfax County now and in the years to come,” Meyers said.

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Morning Notes

A Japanese maple tree on Church Street in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Heat Raises Risk for Outdoor Activities — “The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a special weather statement for early season heat for Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22. Temperatures will rise into the 90s this weekend for the first time since last fall, with Saturday forecast to be the hottest day.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

FCPS Teacher Arrested on Child Porn Charges — “A 28-year-old middle school teacher from Springfield faces two felony charges of possession of child pornography…At the time of her arrest, Kristine Knizner was employed by Fairfax County Public Schools as a teacher at Irving Middle School in Springfield. She had previously been a teacher at Key Middle School in Franconia.” [Patch]

School Bus Crashes at Inova Fairfax Hospital — “Two-vehicle crash involving a Fairfax County School bus on the 3300 block of Gallows Rd @ 5:53pm. Two students were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Bus driver & the driver of the other involved vehicle have non-life-threatening injuries.” [Allison Papson/Twitter]

Natural Gas Tank Explodes in Springfield — “Approximately 6 PM, units were dispatched for a cylinder tank in natural gas vehicle that exploded/ruptured in 6800 block of Industrial Road in Springfield. Fire in vehicle extinguished. No hazard and no reported injuries.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Metro Eyes Late Summer to Restore Troubled Trains — “Amid a leadership shakeup at Metro, the transit agency says its plan to restore its long-sidelined 7000-series rail cars by late this summer remains on track. Late Thursday afternoon, Metro submitted a formal return-to-service plan aiming to safely bring back a limited number of 7000-series rail cars, and Metro’s safety watchdog…gave the plan a green light.” [WTOP]

Project Near West Falls Church Metro Begins — The City of Falls Church broke ground yesterday (Tuesday) on West Falls, a major mixed-use development that, in its first phase, will bring five buildings totaling 1.2 million square feet to the former George Mason High School site. It’s the biggest project in the city’s history and will eventually be joined by development from Metro and Virginia Tech. [Washington Business Journal]

Couple Thankful After Reston Fire Station Baby Delivery — “It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for Isabelle Ahearn and Ray Qasimyar, after Ahearn went into labor early Tuesday morning and wound up delivering her baby in the parking lot of a Fairfax County fire station.” [ABC7]

Colvin Run ES Teacher Turns Basketball into Education — “P.E. teacher Patrick Noel had started his first year, a virtual one, at Colvin Run Elementary School during the pandemic. He says during his breaks, he would perform trick shots and share them with his students, ultimately presenting them on Tuesdays and dubbing it Trick Shot Tuesday.” [ABC7]

Vienna Adds Street Beacons — “Vienna has two new sets of Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons! The LEDs flash with high frequency when activated to improve pedestrian safety. Check out the new RRFBs at the intersection of Courthouse Road SW & Glen Ave SW as well as Beulah Rd NE & Creek Crossing Road NE.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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