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AN EVALUATION OF PRELIMINARY DAMAGE ASSESSMENT PLANS - page 11 / 38

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Preliminary Damage Assessment

10

Due to Accomack County’s unique geographic location and topography, it is especially

susceptible to severe weather conditions. Tidal events, hurricanes and tropical storms have been

identified as the most significant threat to the County and it inhabitants.

Storms have affected Accomack County for centuries as evidenced by the hundreds of

documented ship wrecks and damage to past and present life saving stations [pre-cursors to the

US Coast Guard] located on or around the entire eastern shoreline including the Atlantic barrier

islands.

Since 1564 thru 2003 a total of 23 recorded storms have drastically affected the Eastern

Shore. The severest recorded storm to impact Accomack County occurred in 1821, and was

termed the Great Gust. It is said that this storm triggered an undersea landslide causing a

tsunami tidal wave. This in conjunction with hurricane force winds and surge effectively wiped

out all existing homes from Chincoteague Island and well inland (Eastern Shore Hazard

Mitigation Planning Committee, & Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission,

2005). Given Accomack County’s historical record and its geographic vulnerability there is a

high probability that it is only a matter of time before another major storm severely affects

Accomack County.

The current process for damage assessment is a guesstimate of the actual loss within the

community (Accomack County 2005). The recent events of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and

Tropical Storm Ernesto in 2006 have tested this process and has proven to be inadequate,

inaccurate and a waste of precious manpower. Accomack County Department of Public Safety

was created in 1998 to provide supplemental career Fire and EMS staff to the predominately

volunteer emergency service system which exists today.

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