News Flash

Emergency Management

Posted on: September 20, 2023

20 years after Isabel: Large numbers of downed trees, power lines


Sept. 20, 2023 - Twenty years ago, Hurricane Isabel pounded Hampton with sustained winds of 53 mph and gusts of 76 mph. The  damage was significantly different than past storms due to the number of trees completely uprooted.  A drought in the summer of 2002, combined with the high annual rainfall in the months preceding Hurricane Isabel saturated the ground allowing many trees to be uprooted during the storm.  There were an estimated 15,000 trees lost throughout the city.  

Hurricane Isabel resulted in widespread damage due to its massive wind field which uprooted trees, downed many power lines, snapped telephone poles, and damaged many homes across the city of Hampton.  Many roads were blocked by fallen trees, utility poles, or other storm debris.  

Despite the efforts of Hampton Public Works and Parks & Recreation working in tandem with Dominion Power and multiple out-of-state utility crews, power outages across the city ranged from multiple days to several weeks.  Hampton residents were left without lighting, electrical appliances, refrigeration for food and medication, and air conditioning during the oppressive heat and humidity that followed the tropical storm system.  The extensive power outage impacted all aspects of life at home, school, and work.

Hampton Police worked to maintain traffic control at intersections and also placed security teams throughout the city to protect property and businesses during the city-wide power outage. 

At the time of Hurricane Isabel, more homeowners than ever before owned a generator. Despite warning labels on the equipment and safety fliers distributed at the point of sale, carbon monoxide poisoning led to 3 fatalities in Virginia in the aftermath of Isabel.


BUILD A KIT.  It can take days to weeks for power restoration or other assistance to reach you depending on the severity of a disaster.  It is critical to be prepared with the emergency supplies you need to sustain your household after a disaster including:

  • Food and supplies for all family members including infants, pets, and special dietary needs
  • Medical needs
  • Tools and safety items
  • Hygiene and sanitation
  • Protective gear
  • Emergency funds
  • Critical paperwork
  • Comfort items
  • Visit Build A Kit | for additional details.


  • Follow all instructions. 
  • Keep portable generators outside, at least 20 feet from the home, and protected from moisture.  
  • Never use a fueled generator in your home or garage. 
  • Never refuel a generator when while it is hot.
  • Visit Power Outages |  or Using Portable Generators Safely ( for additional information. 


  • Throw out any food including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. 
  • Never eat food from a bloated can.
  • Do not eat food from a flooded garden.  
  • When in doubt, throw it out!  
  • Visit Food | for additional information.

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