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National Capital Region Unveils New Web Portal and Winter Preparedness Campaign

New Web Portal
The jurisdictions of the National Capital Region have a new communications tool to communicate emergency information to residents of the NCR – it’s a Web portal, www.CapitalRegionUpdates.gov. The site was unveiled today at a meeting of regional communicators, public safety officials and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. Through this online resource, residents can stay connected to local jurisdictional news (through a combined RSS feed of local news releases), localized weather from the National Weather Service, traffic and transit alerts, tips on how to prepare for emergencies and much more.

Capital Region Updates features day-to-day news from the jurisdictions of the National Capital Region.  During a regional emergency or major weather event across the NCR, the site will feature incident updates and life-safety news and instructions. It will serve as an online “one stop shop” for information and guidance during major emergencies.

Residents that live or work in the National Capital Region are encouraged to bookmark www.CapitalRegionUpdates.gov for news and information updates.


Winter Preparedness
“Get Where You Need to be Before the Weather Gets Bad”
The National Capital Region has a common message this winter – stay off the roads when it snows!

Overall, most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. People should avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow, or dense fog. These are serious conditions that are often underestimated, and they make driving – and even walking outside – very hazardous.

“We are coordinating public messaging this year with Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the federal government,” said Merni Fitzgerald, director of the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs and chair of the region’s communicators. “Some already have logos/slogans – such as Maryland’s ‘Ice and Snow: Take it Slow,’ DC’s ‘Plan Today, Plow Tomorrow’ and the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management’s new option of ‘Staggered Early Departure/with Final Departure Time.’ Current campaigns and messages will be continued; this regional campaign is an effort to extend those messages and remind NCR residents and visitors of the dangers and consequences of being on area roads during winter weather,” Fitzgerald added.

The primary message for residents to remember in the “SNOW – Stay off the roads, Not Out in the Weather,” campaign during the upcoming winter weather is:

Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad!

Winter storms are deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm:
• People die in traffic accidents on icy roads.
• People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

The winter message, “Get Where You Need to Be Before the Weather Gets Bad,” further reinforces the theme that it is safer for everyone if people will stay put – and not travel during inclement weather – whether they be at home, work or school.

By staying off the roads during the worst of the weather, departments of transportation are more easily able to access roads that need treatment; snow plows can more freely clear roads and get to areas needing plowing; and public safety officials can respond more quickly to persons in need of emergency services.

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About the National Capital Region
The National Capital Region — which is composed of 11 local jurisdictions, two states and the District of Columbia — prepares for disasters collaboratively. These preparations involve the region’s elected officials, emergency management, law enforcement, fire and public health personnel, along with the nonprofit and private sectors.

The NCR encompasses the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William in Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s in Maryland, which include the municipalities of Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt, Rockville and Takoma Park.

Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs, 703-324-3189; 571-238-7437 (cell)

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* Editor’s Note: Public service announcements and a campaign logo are available for media use. Contact Merni Fitzgerald for copies.

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Release Date: Dec 15, 2011


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