As Virginia continues to recover from the largest non-hurricane power outage in the state's history, Arlington County's emergency management director is raising questions as to how best to handle the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.
"I want to make sure that we think very, very carefully about adding a special event onto an emergency condition that we're still under here in Arlington County. It appears our good friends in Washington, D.C., aren't suffering the same power outages and loss of communications that we are," said Jack Brown, the head of the county's Office of Emergency Management.
"People come to Arlington. They're going to go to the Iwo Jima Memorial. They're going to go to Long Bridge Park. They're going to go to the Air Force Memorial. They're going to go to any place on the high ground where they can see those fireworks."
Brown added: "Our 911 system is still hit or miss. So, you add thousands of people on this side of the Potomac River, and if someone has a medical emergency, and they can't get through… that puts a strain on the system."
The Washington Post reported Brown wanted to "cancel the Fourth."
County resources have been stretched thin following Friday night's high-wind storm. As of Monday afternoon, about 24,000 households remained without power; 19 roads were blocked; traffic signals at nearly 40 intersections were not working; and the county's 911 system continued to experience problems receiving cell phone calls.
Brown told Patch, "We're going to get through it."
"Fireworks are going to occur. I just want to make sure as these decisions are being made, we're thinking through all of the consequences — and the unintended consequences," he said.
"We need to think that through. I've raised those concerns to my colleagues and the decision-makers. The fireworks are going to happen. I know I'm probably the lone wolf out there saying this. But I want to make sure that when we make these decisions, we do so with our eyes wide open."
Brown said his office has been in contact with the National Parks Service, along with local police and fire chiefs.
The county will take the staff that's been used for the weekend emergency and redeploy them for the holiday, he said. Volunteers will be brought in to "maintain a state of operational readiness."
Brown said his office spent much of Monday working on those plans.
Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said law enforcement would find out more about Fourth of July plans on Tuesday.
"We're discussing this now, still in the initial phases," Sternbeck said. "Let's not jump the gun here."
Arlington County does not plan to close or limit any fireworks viewing areas, according to a Monday email from county spokesman Ingrid Vaicius.