WASHINGTON - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell pleaded with residents to stay off the roads, get blankets and flashlights, and use common sense as Hurricane Sandy churns its way toward the East Coast.
“If everybody is patient, is a good neighbor, we’ll get through this,” he said at a news conference.
McDonnell said his greatest concern is keeping people off the roads during the height of the storm. Officials expect extensive flooding and downed trees blocking roads, and outages that cut power to traffic signals.
He said downed electric wires and falling trees were the biggest cause of deaths and injuries in previous storms.
McDonnell said he was concerned about the storm’s impact on preparations for the Nov. 6. election. Both President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney have canceled plans to campaign Monday in Virginia, a critical swing state in the presidential race.
The governor said he has directed officials to keep election offices open, if safe, so eligible voters can cast absentee ballots. If the offices are forced to close, he said he is considering extending their hours once the emergency eases.
McDonnell said that people should prepare with blankets, noting a forecast of cold temperatures and possibly snow in some areas. “If you don’t have power, your concern and your threat is going to be cold,” he said.
McDonnell spoke to reporters after participating in a conference call that President Obama and Federal Emergency Manage Agency Administrator Craig Fugate held with governors and mayors of affected states.