Harford County Braces for “FrankenStorm” Hurricane Sandy; EOC Activated, Residents Urged to Make Preparations

Across Harford County and central Maryland, government agencies prepared Friday for the so-called “FrankenStorm”: a combination of Hurricane Sandy, a large Category 1 hurricane moving from the south which threatened to deliver a direct blow to the Delmarva peninsula, and another front moving in from the west.

Drawing comparisons to the “perfect storm” of 1991, the potential combination had authorities scrambling to cope with wind damage and power outages, and sent local residents to stores for basic necessities, generators, and fuel.

What follows are the various releases put out from a bevy of local agencies, power companies, and politicians.

How are you preparing? Tell us below.

From Harford County Government:

(Bel Air, MD) – - Harford County Government has started planning and preparation for severe weather as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Emergency preparedness actions are being coordinated by the Division of Emergency Operations.

“Hurricane Sandy is a severe storm with potential for a significant impact to Harford County as well as the entire State of Maryland,” said County Executive David R. Craig. “We urge citizens to immediately begin to take all necessary preparations in response to Hurricane Sandy and the severe weather we are anticipating,” Craig remarked.

The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations recommends the following precautionary measures for citizens to take prior to the impact of Hurricane Sandy:

• Ensure homes are equipped with flashlights and fresh batteries. In the event of a loss of electricity, use flashlights in lieu of candles for emergency lighting.

• Have at least a three (3) day supply of fresh water and canned goods available for you and your family.

• Have at least one battery powered portable radio available and in good working order to monitor news and weather information regarding the storm.

• Keep curb areas and storm drains clear of leaves and other debris which may impact proper drainage and result in flooded streets.

• When using portable generators for power, never bring the generator into the home or enclosed area as this may result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Use only outdoor cooking equipment such as grills or barbeques outdoors in well ventilated areas.

• Should flooding occur in a basement area, do not call 9-1-1 for assistance unless a true fire emergency is imminent. Local fire departments do not respond to pump out basements during natural disasters.

The Harford County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated throughout the duration of the storm emergency. As further information and developments are available, the EOC will notify the public through media as well as direct calls through the Harford County Emergency Notification System. For further information regarding the Emergency Notification System and to sign-up to receive emergency messages at a home or cell phone, visit www.harfordpublicsafety.org and click on the icon “sign up now” or call 410-638-4900.

“The citizens of Harford County are well served by an outstanding team of well trained and experienced law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service providers. Nonetheless, everyone needs to do their part in preparation of the severe weather Harford County may receive as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” County Executive Craig said.

From Baltimore Gas and Electric:

BALTIMORE, Oct. 26, 2012 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that as the projected forecast for Hurricane Sandy continues to worsen, customers in central Maryland should anticipate extended and widespread power outages potentially lasting several days. The hurricane is expected to hit central Maryland as early as Sunday and continue through Wednesday.

BGE has proactively begun the process of pre-mobilizing several thousand field and support personnel, as well as requesting out-of-state mutual assistance crews in preparation for the potential impact. BGE has requested approximately 2,000 out-of-state and contract linemen and tree personnel, and is opening its staging site at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport to prepare for the arrival of crews in advance of the hurricane’s full impact. At this time, BGE has received commitments for approximately 800 out-of-state linemen and tree personnel from Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, who are expected to arrive over the next few days.

Although the projected path and potential impact of the storm remains unknown, Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring heavy rain, up to seven inches in certain parts of the territory, as well as sustained wind of up to 40 miles per hour and wind gusts surpassing 60 miles per hour. The company is anticipating that several hundred thousand customers may be affected.

“BGE continues to work diligently to prepare for the potential impact of Hurricane Sandy,” said Jeannette M. Mills, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “While our crews will be in place and our staging site equipped before the arrival of the storm, the projected high winds and heavy rain may result in extended power outages. The severity of the storm may affect our ability to immediately begin our damage assessment and restoration process, as certain types of work such as repairs requiring the use of bucket trucks cannot be safely performed when the wind exceeds 25 miles per hour.”

In instances of long periods of heavy rain, BGE prepares for the very real potential of not only outages relating to overhead power lines, but also outages caused by flooding in cases where water enters gas and electric meters. In cases where flooding affects equipment after the meter, customers are responsible for all wiring, pipe, appliances, breaker boxes and any other gas or electric-related equipment or service inside the home or business. Customers are urged to consider the following safety tips:

· Proceed with care if you have experienced flooding in your basement and/or other areas of your home

· Do not enter a room with standing water, particularly if the water covers electrical outlets or electrical cords that are plugged into outlets

· Ensure the electrical system is shut off before entering a flooded room or basement

· Do not attempt to shut off your electrical system if you have to stand in water or on a wet floor to do so

· If you experienced flooding, do not turn on any lights or appliances without having a comprehensive inspection performed by a licensed electrician and also by a registered plumber with a gasfitter’s license for gas appliances

Customers should also take the time now to prepare for the possibility of extended outages. BGE urges customers to stay informed, make an emergency plan including emergency phone numbers and an emergency kit, and keep the following items readily available:

· Flashlights – not candles

· Fresh batteries

· Battery-operated clock radio

· Corded telephone

· Fully charged cell phone

· Non-perishable foods

· Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation

· First aid kit

· Local maps

· Blankets

As a reminder, BGE customers who may be elderly, handicapped or dependent on electricity for medical equipment, should always have alternate arrangements in place should they experience an extended power outage.

Customers also should consider filling the fuel tanks of their vehicles in the event a power outage affects service to neighborhood gas stations. For customers who rely on well water, filling a bathtub with water in advance of severe weather is strongly encouraged. Customers using a generator should follow manufacturer instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas. Customers can find information on preparing for natural disasters and other emergency events at bge.com, as well as find tips and updated information on storm preparation and restoration progress via BGE’s social media sites Twitter and Facebook.

Customers also are reminded to call 877.778.2222 to report a power outage or downed wire using BGE’s automated system.

From the Office of the State Fire Marshal:

PIKESVILLE, MD (October 26, 2012) – The potential of Tropical Storm Sandy and the storm system approaching from the west coast may cause disruption in electrical service to our homes. State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard is cautioning residents when using alternative light and electrical sources during power outages. “These easy to follow tips will help all Marylanders avoid injury or death during power outages,” said the State Fire Marshal.

• Use flashlights during power outages instead of candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand at all times. If you prefer the look of candles, consider flameless battery operated candles that offer the flickering light without the potential fire hazard.

• If using candles, make sure they are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and the holders should be made of material that will not burn.

• Keep candles away from anything combustible, such as; clothing, books, papers, curtains, decorations or anything else that can burn.

• Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets.

• Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room or before going to sleep.

• Never use candles, matches or lighters if medical oxygen therapy is used in the home.

• If you are depending on portable generators for electricity during power outages, use extreme caution when refueling. Fuel splashed on a hot muffler could ignite, causing severe burns and serious injuries.
• Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running. Always allow the unit to cool before attempting to refuel.

• Operate generators outside of the home and outside of garages. Carbon monoxide gas produced by operating generators is poisonous and can quickly cause severe injury or death.

• Ensure placement of the generator does not allow carbon monoxide to enter the home through windows, doors or other openings.

• If you can hear thunder during the storm, you are within striking distance of lightning. Stay off corded phones, computers and other electronic equipment which would place you in direct contact with electricity.

The State Fire Marshal offers one final tip that is just as important. “Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These early notification devices are some of the most effective fire and life safety tools for preventing injury or death from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning”.

From the State Highway Administration:

(October 26, 2012) – A massive coastal storm threatens to bring heavy rain, high winds, widespread power outages and a coastal storm surge to the mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland.

Hurricane Sandy is a huge slow moving storm with wide-ranging impacts anticipated regardless of where she makes landfall. State Highway Administration (SHA) crews are preparing by clearing drains, fueling up, stocking road signs and readying chain saws and other equipment. In addition, SHA’s teams are preparing for the possibility of snow in Western Maryland. With leaves still on most trees, significant tree damage and power outages are a major concern.

“This is a dangerous storm on many levels. Trees could be damaged by heavy rains and high winds, making them susceptible to falling,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “Since this storm is likely to impact the entire State, each SHA maintenance shop is preparing equipment. During the storm, travel conditions will be hazardous and motorists should expect that there could be delays and detours for days after as crews clean up.”

Remember, a new law enacted this summer mandates drivers must treat intersections with non-functioning traffic signals as four-way stops. Do not assume that you or the other driver has the right-of-way; make eye contact if possible and proceed safely through the intersection.

To keep traffic moving smoothly, SHA will:
• Provide real-time traffic information and storm-related road closures through Maryland’s 511 phone system and at WWW.MD511.ORG as well as www.roads.maryland.gov where you can click on CHART to see live traffic cameras.
• Program overhead Variable Message Signs along major roadways and Traveler Advisory Radios to inform motorists of crashes, delays and route diversions. However, smaller routes prone to flooding may not be listed as they happen quickly and often go unreported. Just because a road isn’t listed as problematic on these resources, conditions change quickly, so use caution and allow extra time regardless.

Here are some additional tips for motorists:
• Do not try to cross a flooded roadway. Eighty percent of flood-related deaths occur in vehicles. Two feet of rapidly moving water can float a bus and six inches can knock a person off his or her feet.
• Avoid downed or damaged power and transmission wires and cables.
• Stay alert for animals, such as deer, that will be fleeing dangerous areas and crossing roadways.
• Stay alert for traffic signal issues related to power outages. Use extreme caution and do not assume the other drivers will stop or yield.
• Prepare your vehicle by filling the gas tank, checking tire pressure and washer fluid, charging your cell phone and bringing snacks for you and passengers.
• SHA urges motorists to exercise extreme caution as weather conditions change. If you must drive, please buckle up and obey posted speed limits.

In conjunction with other agencies and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), SHA is monitoring the storm from the Statewide Operations Center (SOC) near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. During hurricanes, snow storms and other crises, the SOC doubles as SHA’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) providing access to hundreds of camera images, constant contact with field personnel and quick response to changing conditions. From the EOC, SHA communicates with local jurisdictions, neighboring states, emergency responders and the media.

SHA’s Emergency Management team runs through a thorough checklist including: participating in National Weather Service and Delmarva Emergency Task Force conference calls; inspecting and cleaning storm drains, drainage ditches and inlets; testing and verifying critical equipment parts and supplies; reviewing evacuation plans; identifying potential road construction issues along evacuation corridors. SHA crews are also ready to deploy high water signs as needed.

Other SHA precautionary actions include the following:
• Fueling emergency generators;
• Acquiring additional fuel;
• Checking chain saws, wood chippers and other equipment;
• Clearing roadside drainage systems;
• Notifying contractors SHA may need their services;
• Placing signal technicians on stand-by.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency stresses awareness and preparedness as Hurricane Sandy approaches Maryland. Go to www.mema.state.md.us for the latest storm track and preparedness information.

For themost up to date highway traffic information, call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit www.md511.org, which also includes weather. Sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511 on the website. Remember to use 511 safely – Maryland law prohibits hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.

For emergency information, log onto MEMA. For more general – non storm specific information, follow SHA on Twitter @MDSHA and “like” us on Facebook at:
www.facebook.com/MarylandStateHighwayAdministration

From U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski:

“Sandy has the potential to be a big and dangerous storm for Mid-Atlantic states and Maryland. I am monitoring its path and possible impact on Maryland and other coastal states,” Senator Mikulski said. “I am in communication with Maryland’s Congressional Delegation and Governor O’Malley to make sure that Maryland has the federal support and resources it needs to respond to this emergency. I urge all Marylanders to listen to their local officials and first responders and be prepared for this storm.”

For more information on hurricane preparedness, these resources may be helpful:

To track Sandy’s path, please go to the National Hurricane Center’s webpage at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

For tips on being prepared with an emergency action plan, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) webpage at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php or FEMA’s preparedness website at: http://www.ready.gov/

For local information on Sandy, please go to the website of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) at www.mema.state.md.us or call 1-877-636-2872.

As Hurricane Sandy approaches Maryland, please remember to follow the instructions of local officials in the event of emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911.

From state Sen. Nancy Jacobs:

Dear Constituents,

I wanted to offer some links to assist you in light of the pending storm, Hurricane Sandy, that may help if we do incur severe power outages or other problems late this weekend.

Here is a link to the recent news release from BGE: http://www.bge.com/Article%20Documents/Tropical%20Storm%20Sandy%20Prep%20Release%201%20-%2010.24.12.pdf

For those of you in Cecil County who are served by Delmarva Power, their web page also has some helpful information:
http://www.delmarva.com/home/

Harford County Emergency Management (note download about “surviving the storm”): http://www.harfordpublicsafety.org/

Cecil County Emergency Management: http://www.ccdes.org/emergencymanagement.cfm

Hopefully we won’t be hard hit, but it’s always good to be prepared! Always feel free to call my office for assistance. 410-841-3158, or 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3158 (toll free)

Comments

  1. Cindy Mumby says

    I just got back from Home Depot in Bel Air where a worker told me they sold out of 52 generators this morning in 45 minutes. The store was busy and I asked him whether it was more crowded than usual. “It’s a nuthouse”, he said.

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    • says

      Later this afternoon, I saw several people at a couple of area WaWas filling gas containers. Supermarket parking lots seemed busier than usual.

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  2. JtowneJeff says

    i got a generator last night at sear’s in harford mall (they may still have some) and i’m having a new roof and roof decking installed today. bring it, Sandy!

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  3. ALEX R says

    I’m sure all you say is true and I heard a lot of people reporting big lines at supermarkets, etc., and my wife advised against stopping anywhere on the way home. But at 6:00 pm last night I went in to the Weis next to the DMV in Bel Air and the place was nearly empty. And they still had bottled water and plenty of ice. I was surprised to say the least. I hardly ever go there but I just took a chance. Curious. Is it always that empty?

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