RCC emergency shelter plan denied temporary permit

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Aug 29, 2012 - 01:46 PM

Mathews County Emergency Services Coordinator Dave Burns told the board of supervisors Tuesday that the county has been denied a temporary permit to use Rappahannock Community College as an emergency shelter.

Although the county had reached an agreement with the college and the state and federal governments had supported the agreement, he said, "the brand-new vice chancellor of the (Virginia Community College) system didn’t like the project."

"He decided we hadn’t jumped through enough bureaucratic hoops," said Burns.

Explaining that the Mobjack Bay and its tributaries act as a funnel for storm surges, Burns said the East River and Put-In Creek flood and make Thomas Hunter Middle School unusable as a shelter. Over the past three years, he said, he talked with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management about using RCC as an emergency shelter for Mathews residents. VDEM wouldn’t consider it without power, he said, so Wallace Twigg, who works for VDEM, and some of his colleagues helped to secure a grant for $112,000 to install a switch at the college for hooking up a generator.

Throughout the effort, Burns said, "the college president and administration were enthusiastic supporters."