Days of heavy rains and rising waters created havoc across northern Harford County Wednesday night and the early morning hours Thursday, pushing the Susquehanna River more than six feet above flood stage.
Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome Sr. ordered a mandatory evacuation of the town beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday as Exelon Energy prepared to open as many as 50 crestgates by Saturday morning, when the Susquehanna River is expected to crest. Havre de Grace soon followed suit with members of the Susquehanna Hose Company and the Havre de Grace Police Department going door to door and asking the affected people to evacuate.
Route 1 over the Conowingo Dam was closed Thursday morning by the State Highway Administration as Exelon Energy workers fought to clear debris which was compromising operation of the dam’s floodgates.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, as of 12:30 p.m. Thursday the river level stood at a height of 30.06 feet, well above the flood stage of about 24 feet, and was discharging 620,000 cubic feet of water per second, compared to a 43-year median average of 16,200 cubic feet of water per second.
Current conditions at the Conowingo Dam are available at the USGS Web site.
Harford County Public Schools cancelled all after school and evening activities Thursday and announced several Havre de Grace and Aberdeen area schools would be closed on Friday. The Havre de Grace Activity Center (351 Lewis Lane, Havre de Grace) will also be closed on Friday. Senior programs, Havre de Grace Recreation Committee programs, and the Boys and Girls Club programs are all cancelled.
Havre de Grace Schools/Aberdeen High School CLOSED TOMORROW
From Harford County Public Schools:
Due to the impending storm and potential for flooding in these areas, the followingfive Harford County Public Schools will be CLOSED for all students and employees tomorrow, Friday, September 9th:
1. Havre de Grace Elementary
2. Havre de Grace Middle
3. Havre de Grace High
4. Meadowvale Elementary
5. Aberdeen High School
Portions of Havre de Grace Evacuated
From the City of Havre de Grace:
Hello, this is an urgent message from the Harford County Emergency Management Office concerning the conditions of the Susquehanna River. Heavy rains in Pennsylvania are causing the river to rise to historical levels. Emergency preparedness officials are recommending the following actions if you live in an area prone to flooding on the Susquehanna River. Officials are initiating a mandatory evacuation to certain areas along the Susquehanna River and certain parts of Havre de Grace. The Susquehanna Hose Company and the Havre de Grace Police Department will be going door to door and asking the affected people to evacuate. The citizens should voluntarily find another place to stay until the river subsides to safer levels. If you are unable to relocate with friends or relatives, the Aberdeen High School will be available as a temporary shelter. Crated pets will be accommodated by the shelter. Please pay close attention to news media outlets should river conditions change. Please abide by all direction or instructions given you by first responders or publics works personnel. If you have any questions please call 410-838-5800. Thank you
Mandatory Evacuation of Port Deposit Set for 8 P.M. Thursday
From the Town of Port Deposit:
Mayor Wayne L. Tome, Sr. has issued a mandatory evacuation order beginning at 8:00 pm on Thursday, September 9th, 2011.
All residents of Main Street should prepare to evacuate. A shelter has been established at Perryville High School on Perrylawn Avenue. You are encouraaged to take an emergency kit with you. Some suggested items are non-perishable food, water, a battery powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, a change of clothes, and medications.
Upon notification of a MANDATORY Evacuation due to the flooding conditions in Port Deposit residents are advised that water and wastewater services will be interrupted. No service of water of wastewater will be provided for the duration of the flooding event IN ALL SERVICE AREAS OF PORT DEPOSIT.
Exelon Corp. has opened 30 gates. Route 1 will be closed temporarily so that State Highway can remove debris from the roadway.
The Mayor issued a state of emergency at 6:30 P.m. on September 7. He also issued a voluntary evacuation for all businesses and residents for 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 8. Residents are urged to evacuate by that time. If you do evacuate, you should take an emergency kit with you. Some suggested items are non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, a change of clothes, and medications.
The Mayor, Council, and Emergency Services are closely monitoring the situation and will keep you updated as necessary. In the meantime, please check the Conowingo Spill hotline at 877.457.2525 and this web page for updates.
Conowingo Dam Closed to Traffic as Floodgates Jammed by Debris
From the State Highway Administration:
(September 8, 2011) – The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is assisting Exelon Energy with the closure and detour of US 1 (Conowingo Road) over the Conowingo Hydro-electric Dam at the Harford/Cecil County line. The closure is necessary for the energy company to stage large equipment on the US 1 Conowingo Dam to remove debris that is compromising proper operation of the foodgates.
SHA has established the following detours for US 1:
Northbound US 1 (Harford County)
Motorists traveling along northbound US 1 will be detoured to suthbound MD 161 (Darlington Road) to eastbound MD 155 (Level Road) to northbound I-95 (John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) or eastbound US 40 (Pulaski Highway).
Southbound US 1 (Cecil County)
Motorists traveling along southbound US 1 will be detoured to southbound MD 276 (Jacob Tome Memorial Highway) to southbound MD 275 (Perrylawn Drive) to southbound MD 222 (Bainbridge Road) to southbound I-95 or westbound US 40.
SHA is using detour signs and portable variable message signs to guide motorists through the detours. Citizens with any questions about the closure of US 1 may contact SHA’s District 4 Office at 1-866-998-0367.
Harford County Declares State of Emergency for Tropical Storm Lee
Partial evacuation ordered for parts of Havre de Grace
From Harford County government:
Harford County Executive David R. Craig has declared a State of Emergency for Tropical Storm Lee. The Executive Order was issued at 1:20 p.m. Thursday, September 08, 2011.
In part the Executive Order from County Executive Craig states, “There is a need to take steps to prepare for potential destruction and the possibility of evacuation due to flooding and to minimize the threat to public safety and the lives of Harford County citizens and for the facilitation of the deployment of requisite resources.” The Executive Order also directs the activation of the Harford County Emergency Operations Plan.
During the past 48 hours, Harford County has received several inches of torrential rainfall as the result of Tropical Storm Lee passing through the area. The rainfall and rising water from streams and tributaries has resulted in localized flooding of more than a dozen roads throughout the county.
The Harford County Emergency Operations Center was activated at approximately noon Thursday and will remain activated until the emergency situation is resolved. In addition to emergency management staff, the EOC is staffed with representatives of numerous county agencies and departments, the Harford County Fire and EMS Association, the Harford County Health Department, Department of Social Services, Harford County Public Schools, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and representatives from the City of Havre de Grace.
As a result of rising water in the Susquehanna River, to include 34 gates open on the Conowingo Dam, a partial evacuation has been ordered to several streets and neighborhoods in the City of Havre de Grace. The areas affected by the evacuation order are:
– From the Susquehanna River to Market Street and Lafayette Street
– From Market Street through St. John Street
– From the Susquehanna River to St. John Street to include Seneca Point
– The 300 Block of Green Street to the water
– Otsego Street to Stokes Street
– In the North Park area from Juanita Street to Otsego Street from Superior Street
– Everything from the Lock House to Water and Stokes Streets, to include Locust Street
– Stafford Road
– Herring Run Lane
– One home on Craig’s Corner Road near the Susquehanna River
Additionally approximately 165 residents of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center are being evacuated. Residents are being sent to stay with relatives in the area or to other facilities out of the county. The evacuation of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center began at approximately 1:00 p.m. Thursday.
Officials are bracing for the potential of flooding during the early morning hours Friday when more than 40 flood gates are expected to be opened at the Conowingo Dam.
Emergency management and public safety officials urge the public not to travel into the City of Have de Grace unless absolutely necessary.
As a reminder, officials also remind motorists to use caution when driving in areas prone to flooding or where there is standing water. Also, motorists should not attempt to drive through roads that have flooded and are covered with water.
Bel Air Trooper Rescues Pylesville Woman from Deer Creek Flood Waters
From the Maryland State Police:
(BEL AIR, MD) – A Maryland state trooper’s rescue of a Harford County woman whose vehicle was being submerged in flood waters last night is a reminder of why police, fire, and emergency management personnel are urging motorists not to drive into areas flooded by the continuing rain.
At about 8:30 p.m. yesterday, Corporal Ray Domico, of the Bel Air Barrack, was assigned to a traffic post at Rt. 24 and Cherry Hill Road where the road was closed due to flooding. Police Communications Operator Veronica Bruns received a frantic 911 call from a woman who was trapped in her vehicle that was being submerged after she drove into water flooding across the roadway from Deer Creek on Rt. 24 at St. Clair Bridge Road, about two miles north of Cpl. Domico’s post. While Cpl. Domico headed north toward the location, PCO Bruns stayed on the phone trying to calm the distraught 49-year-old woman from Pylesville.
Upon arrival at the scene, Cpl. Domico spotted the sinking sport utility vehicle in swift moving water. Knowing he had to act quickly, Cpl. Domico waded into the waist-deep water. He was able to reach the vehicle and assist the driver, who was the only occupant, out of the SUV. Cpl. Domico helped her walk back through the water to dry ground. Neither person was injured in the incident. The vehicle remains in the flood waters at that location.
State, county, and municipal road departments have blocked flooded roadway areas across the state. Drivers are urged to heed those blockades and follow established detours. If drivers come upon a flooded roadway that has not been blocked, they are urged not to drive into the flooded area.
Before heading out this morning, drivers are urged to check the State Highway Administration travel advisory website at www.md511.org for the latest road closures and information about highway hazards, traffic crashes, and delays. The latest weather and other emergency information is available on the Maryland Emergency Management Agency website at www.mema.state.md.us.
UPDATE: As the video below shows, Deer Creek was already badly flooded in Rocks by 5:30 p.m. By 9:30 p.m., the creek had crested and many of the roads around and through Rocks State Park were rendered unpassable:
Harford County Public Schools Cancels Thursday Afterschool, Evening Activities
From Harford County Public Schools:
ALL Harford County Public Schools afterschool/evening activities are
cancelled today, Thursday, September 8. In addition, evening school
at the Alternative Education Center is cancelled.
BGE Restores Service to 63,000 Customers Affected by Rain, Addresses Flooded Meters
From Baltimore Gas and Electric:
BALTIMORE, Sept. 8, 2011 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that it is aggressively restoring electric service to customers as heavy rain and flooding continue to impact Central Maryland. While the utility has restored electric service to more than 63,000 customers, it expects new outages to continue as the heavy rain persists in areas already saturated by rain from Hurricane Irene, making trees and tree limbs already weakened by the hurricane more likely to fall onto power lines and other equipment, causing outages.
Customers are also reminded that estimated times of restoration (ETRs) provided by BGE’s call center may change until crews are actually on scene and are able to thoroughly assess damage and determine the nature and approximate duration of the work required to restore service. Even once crews are on scene, the nature of the work and operating conditions could extend the duration of an outage beyond ETRs that may have been previously provided to customers. Customers may stay informed on restoration efforts via www.bge.com, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.
“In addition to power outages throughout our Central Maryland service area, BGE is concerned that flooding could cause water to enter meters, which may require the utility to interrupt gas and/or electric service to the affected customers,” said A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations and planning for BGE. “BGE reminds its customers that BGE’s responsibility for gas and/or electric service ends at the meter. Beyond 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. If gas service is interrupted due to water in meters or problems with other BGE equipment, BGE will repair or replace its equipment and restore gas service to the house, if it is safe to do so. If upon completing repairs to its equipment, BGE determines there are possible problems with the customer’s gas-fed appliances or other equipment, BGE will not restore gas service. The customer would then be advised to have a licensed technician (typically a licensed plumber) check and repair all gas-fed appliances such as stoves and clothes dryers and other equipment such as furnaces and water heaters to ensure they are safe to operate. Once it is safe to do so, gas service can be restored by a licensed plumber. If electric service is interrupted due to flooding, customers should have a licensed electrician repair or replace any damaged wiring or other electrical equipment. Once this is completed, customers should call BGE to have electric service restored.”
Customers should 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 experience flooding, do not turn on any lights or appliances without having a comprehensive inspection performed by a licensed electrician and a registered plumber with a gasfitter’s license for gas appliances
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.
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 using a generator should follow manufacturer instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas.
Just as BGE prepares for severe weather and the possibility of power outages, customers should also be prepared and take steps to ensure the safety of their families and property during electric service interruptions. Customers should keep the following items readily available:
•Flashlights – not candles
•Battery operated clock radio
•Fully charged cell phone
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 period of time.
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.
Photographs of Flooding in Havre de Grace by Adam Rybczynski
Photographs of Conowingo and Susquehanna State Park by Matt Spearman
Photographs of Deer Creek along Route 165 by Deborah Bowers
Photographs of Port Deposit by Eric Kimmel
Sen. Nancy Jacobs toured the flood zones on both sides of the Susquehanna River at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Here is a photograph she provided of nighttime flood cleanup on a Port Deposit road.