Across Harford County, local residents, emergency organizations, utility companies, and local governments prepared Thursday for the coming of Hurricane Irene, a powerful storm expected to lash the area with winds reaching tropical storm-strength, several inches of rain, and storm surges several feet above normal.
Preparing for the worst, a variety of local operations each distributed their own preparedness guides and detailed their plans to cope with a storm which may be among the strongest to rumble through the Chesapeake Bay area in decades. The Dagger has collected their releases below.
County Robo-Call Details Strength of Expected Storm, Recommends Safety Measures
From the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations:
Good Evening this is Harford County Emergency Manager Rick Ayers. Hurricane Irene is expected to affect Harford County Saturday evening into Sunday afternoon. The forecast calls for 3 to 6 inches of rain, a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet along the Chesapeake Bay, and sustained winds of 35 to 40 MPH. Additionally, we could also experience tropical force wind gusts of 50 to 60 MPH. Because of the impending storm we could experience widespread power outages in the County.
At this time, the following recommendations should be considered:
Check your emergency supply kit and ensure you have on hand supplies such as: bottled water, nonperishable foods, battery operated flashlight/radio, and prescription medicines, etc.
If you are a citizen with a special need, please reach out to your support network and have a plan in place.
Secure any loose items that are outside your house.
Do not call 911 for flooded basements unless there is a fire hazard.
The Harford County Information/Hotline will be open on Saturday morning beginning at 07:00 AM. The number is (410)-838-5800.
For additional information, please visit our website at www.harfordpublicsafety.org and click on the Surviving the Storm Guide.
Please monitor local news media for additional information and/or additional emergency instructions. Thank you and be safe!
County Emergency Operations Division Urges Preparedness; Provides Road Status Web Page
From the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations:
(Bel Air, MD) – The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations is urging Harford County residents to prepare for high winds, heavy rain and higher tides as a result of Hurricane Irene. As Hurricane Irene moves northward, Harford County and other areas of Maryland could feel the effects from this major storm by the weekend.
The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations recommends citizens prepare for the storm by reviewing their storm survival plan and restock any needed food, water or other supplies to get them through the storm. Additionally, emergency management personnel recommend residents test their battery-powered flashlights and radios to ensure they are storm ready.
“Preparation is the key to staying safe during a storm emergency,” stated County Executive David R. Craig. “We urge citizens to follow the progress of Hurricane Irene on radio, television or the internet and take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of family and loved ones,” County Executive Craig remarked.
Harford County emergency management personnel caution homeowners to prepare their yards for the potential of strong or gusting winds as a result of the hurricane. Many items can become flying debris and result in damage to homes, vehicles and other property during a severe storm.
Homeowners and occupants should make sure outside oil or fuel tanks are properly anchored so they will not overturn or float away due to rising water. Additionally, items in the yard that cannot be moved inside should be anchored or secured so there is less chance of becoming projectiles in high winds.
For additional storm preparedness tips, go to the Harford County Division of Emergency Operations website at www.harfordpublicsafety.org and click on “Surviving the Storm” icon.
If, as is currently expected, the storm brings heavy rain and damaging winds, citizens will be urged to stay off the roads during and immediately following the event unless in cases of emergency. Given the possibility for flooding and debris blocking roadways as a result of the storm, the Harford County Department of Public Works will be monitoring county roads, and will maintain an online listing of county-maintained roads that are temporarily closed if conditions deteriorate. This page can be accessed at: http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/alerts/RoadStatus.cfm.
“The Harford County Division of Emergency Operations, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, local and State Police and our fire and emergency medical services personnel are ready to meet the challenges of the pending storm,” stated County Executive Craig. “Nonetheless, surviving the storm is everyone’s responsibility,” Craig said.
BGE Preparing for Widespread Outages; Calls for Additional External Help to Repair Expected Damages
BALTIMORE, Aug. 25, 2011 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that it is pre-mobilizing its storm center in anticipation of power outages caused by forecasted storms this afternoon and evening. External linemen and support staff, requested by BGE to assist with electric service restoration should Hurricane Irene impact the utility’s service area this weekend, will also supplement BGE’s restoration activities today. The utility has requested the assistance of approximately 850 external personnel, of which approximately 170 arrived Wednesday evening with more expected to arrive today through Saturday. Additionally, the utility continues to closely monitor Hurricane Irene’s track and strongly encourages customers to have a plan in place to protect their families and property in advance of the storm’s arrival.
“BGE proactively requested the assistance of external resources to ensure they would be in place in advance of Hurricane Irene’s arrival in Central Maryland Saturday afternoon, enabling BGE to begin restoring electric service as soon as the storm clears the area and it is safe to do so,” said A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations and planning for BGE. “While those resources were requested specifically to assist with Hurricane Irene, they will also be deployed to assist with outages associated with today’s forecasted storms.”
Customers are reminded to stay informed of BGE’s restoration efforts via www.bge.com, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.
The current track of Hurricane Irene has its peak impact on BGE’s service area early Sunday morning. Customers could begin to experience outages late Saturday evening and may experience multiple outages even after the storm has cleared the system late Sunday due to weakened trees and tree limbs that may not fall until after the storm has left the area.
“The process of contacting customers via automated telephone message is already underway and strongly advises customers to have a plan in place now to protect their families and property in advance of the storm’s arrival in Central Maryland,” said Jeannette M. Mills, senior vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “It is critically important that BGE customers who are elderly, physically challenged or dependent upon electricity for medical equipment always have alternate arrangements in place in the event they experience an extended power outage. Customers using generators should follow the manufacturers’ instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas.”
In addition to visiting BGE’s online Storm Center for important information on how to prepare for an approaching storm, customers should always have basic items on hand in advance of a storm, including the following:
· Flashlights – not candles
· Fresh batteries
· Battery operated clock radio
· Corded telephone
· Fully charged cell phone
· Non-perishable foods
Customers are always reminded to stay away from downed power lines and to report them immediately by calling 1-410-685-0123. Power outages should be reported by calling BGE’s automated system at 1-877-778-2222.
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.
BGE’s restoration priorities are public safety issues and critical facilities, such as 911 centers, hospitals and pumping stations. Then restoration is generally scheduled so that the greatest number of customers can be restored as quickly and as safely as possible. However, in cases of extended power outages, consideration is also given to customers who have been without service for the longest.
In addition to monitoring current and approaching weather conditions which could result in service interruptions, BGE regularly conducts emergency training drills during which all aspects of storm related service restoration are tested. BGE also reviews its Electric Delivery Emergency Response Plan to ensure that storm response procedures are up-to-date and in line with industry standards.
For more information about BGE storm preparation and how customers can protect their families and property, go to www.bge.com.
State Highway Administration Urges Motorists to “Know Before You Go”
(August 25, 2011) – The State Highway Administration (SHA) is taking precautions to protect travelers and communities as Hurricane Irene approaches Maryland. Current forecasts indicate the Eastern Shore, including Ocean City, is expected to feel the brunt of the storm with high winds, extremely heavy rains and storm swells that may cause significant flooding. Central and Western Maryland residents should stay on high alert as the hurricane moves up the Chesapeake Bay along the I-95 corridor.
As Ocean City residents and visitors evacuate, SHA is coordinating with local jurisdictions and the Maryland State Police in the effort. Additionally, SHA is deploying central and western maintenance and emergency operations staff and equipment to the Eastern Shore to assist. Technicians have been detailed to retime signals for maximum outbound “green time” for traffic flow for US 50, MD 404 and MD 90.
SHA’s regularly assigned emergency patrols in the upper shore and Annapolis areas will remain in place to assist motorists as they head west. SHA will add several emergency patrols on the lower shore and pre-position several in Cambridge, Salisbury and Ocean City to assist travelers.
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.
• Suspend construction work requiring lane closures along Maryland State highways in Central Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.
• Program overhead Variable Message Signs and Traveler Advisory Radios to inform motorists of crashes, delays and route diversions.
“We urge residents to take this storm seriously,” said Acting SHA Administrator Darrell B. Mobley. “When in doubt, do not attempt to drive through standing water, even if it appears to be safe. A few inches of water can quickly turn into a dangerous situation, putting you and your family at risk.”
Here are some 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.
• Do not try to drive around police or highway personnel who are blocking roads – they are doing so for a reason – your safety.
• Be patient and courteous – it is contagious.
• Avoid downed or damaged power and transmission wires and cables.
• Keep 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.
Many roads on the lower Eastern Shore are prone to flooding during “regular” rain storms. Significant amounts of rain will flood lower shore roads and drivers should expect travel delays due to road closures as a result of high water. In some cases, drivers may encounter flooded roads that have not yet been closed by SHA or local police but should be avoided.
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.
Each day beginning five days prior to any impact of a hurricane to Maryland, 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 and inspecting roofs for drainage. 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 Irene approaches Maryland. Go to www.mema.state.md.us for the latest storm track and preparedness information.
State Fire Marshal’s Office Cautions Residents on Use of Alternative Light, Energy Sources During Outages
From the Office of the State Fire Marshal:
PIKESVILLE, MD (August 24, 2011) — As Hurricane Irene approaches Maryland, all citizens are reminded of the powerful weather related issues that can be caused with 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 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 holders should be made of material that will not burn.
• Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as; clothing, books, papers, curtains, combustible 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 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, you are within striking distance of lightning. Stay off corded phones, computers and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity and plumbing.
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 safety tools in preventing injury or death from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Mikulski Working to Secure Federal Disaster Funds as State of Emergency Declared in Maryland
From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today issued the following statement on Hurricane Irene:
“Irene is already a big and dangerous storm. 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. As Irene approaches, my prayers are with those in her direct path.”
For more information on hurricane preparedness, please go to www.mikulski.senate.gov and click on “Information on Hurricane Irene” on the home page. Here are additional resources that may be helpful:
* To track Irene’s path, please go to the National Hurricane Center’s webpage at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
* For local information on Irene, 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 Irene 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.
Capt’n Jim McMahan: “Irene is Coming CLOSER!”
From Harford County Council District C Councilman “Capt’n” Jim McMahan:
*Capt’n Jim’s “Coffee Talk” *Aug 25, 2011*
*Irene is coming CLOSER!*
*Governor declares “State of Emergency”*
*Harford County is under a flash flood watch for today, Thursday 25 November.*
*Update from the National Weather Service as of 2 PM this afternoon shows the storm has moved more toward the west creating a more likely impact for Harford County.*
Irene is expected to make landfall between Wilmington NC and Cape Lookout by 1800 EDT Saturday 27 AUG. After landfall, Irene turns toward the north which is a change in direction from original forecasts. This is due to frictional effects because of interaction with the land.
A strong easterly component and weaker westerly component will create a new path driving the bulk of the storm farther inland. This results in a path western Pamlico Sound, between Norfolk and Virginia Beach, emerging in the *southern Chesapeake Bay*. The storm should make a second landfall on the Virginia peninsula or the lower Eastern shore of MD as a low end Cat 2. (Approximately 100 mph sustained)
What that all means: The Washington DC to New York City area (I 95 Corridor) can expect two (2) to seven (7) inches of additional rainfall. Sustained winds expected to be 35 to 40 MPH with gusts of 50 to 60 MPH. It should be noted that if the storm should shift again a minimum of 25 miles further toward the west, the rain amounts could increase to eight (8) to Ten (10) inches of rain. The ground is already super saturated which means the threat of trees uprooting could be an additional hazard.
*NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE. Wide spread electrical outages can be expected due to high winds. Batteries, bottled water, food that does not need a lot of preparation and supplies for infants and the elderly should be obtained ASAP. Portable generators need to be gassed up and ready to go. DO NOT OPERATE PORTABLE GENERATORS IN A CONFINED SPACE. THEY NEED VENTILATION. **Candles for lighting during a storm can be very dangerous. If you must use, do so with great caution.*
*I will bring you urgent updated information as the situation warrants. Charge your cell phone!!*