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By mid-afternoon Saturday, SMECO's online outage map reported that 5,700 Southern Maryland households were without power - nearly 1,400 in Calvert, more than 300 Charles and more than 3,900 in St. Mary's.

Gusts of heavy rain from Hurricane Irene moved Saturday morning into Southern Maryland, as the region braced for a bout of rough weather that forecasters said could bring 4 to 7 inches of rain, with a possibility of up to 9 inches in some localized areas.

Wind gusts of greater than 39 mph were expected with gusts to 65 mph and a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet along coastlines.

The Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge will remain open as long as sustained winds do not exceed 50 mph.

Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties are all urging residents to prepare for extended power outages.

There is the potential for large battering waves on the Chesapeake Bay shorelines. Due to expected high winds and rainfall, residents should prepare for widespread power outages.

Residents who live in low-lying areas are urged to secure their properties and relocate until the storm passes.

Calvert County

The Board of Commissioners of Calvert County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the residents within 100 feet of the cliffs' edge of the Chesapeake Bay.

Shelters opened at noon today at Southern Middle School - 9615 H.G. Trueman Rd. in Lusby; Calvert High School - 520 Fox Run Blvd. in Prince Frederick and Huntingtown High School, 4125 N. Solomons Island Rd., Huntingtown. For more information call 410-535-0314 or 410-535-0396. These lines may be busy.

Calvert County has sandbags available for residents. Up to 25 sand bags per person may be picked up from now through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the following locations:

- Appeal Salt Dome, 401 Sweetwater Road, Lusby

- Stafford Road Salt Dome, 335 Stafford Road, Barstow

- Mt. Hope Salt Dome, 92 Pushaw Road, Sunderland

Calvert staff will be available to assist those in need. Sand will be available at these sites from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents should bring a shovel to fill the bags.

North Beach residents can go to the Public Works Yard at 9402 Dayton Avenue, North Beach. The sand and bags are first come, first serve and residents will need to fill their own bags. This site is for North Beach residents only.

Information for Calvert residents is available at www.co.cal.md.us or to Comcast channel 6 for the latest information on the storm. Calvert residents who need nonemergency assistance can reach the Department of Public Safety at 410-535-0396 or 0314.

Charles County

Charles County government also is offering sandbags. Sandbags may be picked up from now until 5 p.m. this evening at the Charles County Department of Emergency Services building at 10425 Audie Lane off of Radio Station Road in La Plata. The bags will be located to the right of the building near the bays. There is a limit of 20 bags per resident.

The Charles County Department of Public Facilities has a large mound of sand available in the parking lot at Laurel Springs Park on Radio Station Road in La Plata. Residents are responsible for picking up empty sandbags at the Department of Emergency Services building, transporting the bags to Laurel Springs Park and filling the bags with sand. Residents should bring a shovel to fill the bags. No shovels or other tools will be provided.

Charles County residents are also available at www.CharlesCounty.org or Charles County government cable television on Comcast Channel 95 and Verizon Channel 10.

St. Mary’s County

As conditions worsened Saturday afternoon, additional law officers in St. Mary's were called out to assist volunteer firefighters and utility crews responding to fallen trees and other emergencies, and some people -- but not all -- continued to leave low-lying areas in search of higher ground.

Sheriff Tim Cameron said more than two dozen deputies were called in, briefed and sent out in response to the hurricane as a standard patrol shift of about 10 officers continued their regular duties.

"They'll be out there for the duration," Cameron said of the extra officers, and that they would be relieved by more deputies on Sunday. He said their focus would be on low-lying areas near Ridge, St. George Island, the 7th District and Great Mills.

Cameron said that the county "suggested" that people leave those affected areas, and that the initial evacuation carried out by fire and rescue volunteers was one likely initiated by the residents of Langley trailer park in Great Mills.

"I think that came as a request of the people who live there," the sheriff said. "That's a place that always floods."

Thomas Moffett, from his home atop his garage at Old Breton Beach Road along the Potomac River, said of the conditions that afternoon, "It's like a normal heavy high tide. It's not even over the walls or beating up the piers. But it's early."

Regina Cullison said from her home on Thomas Road at St. George Island that her family left the island during a previous hurricane, but that Irene had brought just rain and "a little bit of wind."

"I don't know what it will be as time goes on," she added.

Arthur Pilkerton, president of the 2nd District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad in St. Mary's Valley Lee community, said members of both parts of the organization were on duty at the firehouse, performing tasks including getting most of the people off St. George Island.

"About 80 percent of them left out [from there] voluntarily," Pilkerton said. "it looks kind of like a ghost town down there, they said."

The department's auxiliary members were preparing meals for the on-duty crews, he said, and the department had the use of a high-clearance military truck from the sheriff's office that arrived at their station on Friday. "It sits up a lot higher and goes into places our [vehicles] can't," Pilkerton said.

The Langely trailer park at the end of Adkins Road in Great Mills was advised that flood waters were rising and that they should leave, as were residents of St. George Island. St. Mary's County made no mandatory evacuations, said Bob Kelly, director of public safety.

About 40 people were using the shelter at Leonardtown High School, he said.

There is a high-wind warning for the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge. "SHA is monitoring that," Kelly said.

The huricane's winds should pick up from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

St. Mary's County was placed under a hurricane warning from Friday until Sunday. The rest of Southern Maryland remained under a tropical storm warning. The National Weather Service said to expect 4 to 7 inches of rain with up to 9 inches in localized areas. A tornado watch was also effective for southern St. Mary's County.

Winds could gust up to 65 mph and there could be a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet along tidal waters.

The county's six convenience centers still have sand, but no bags for them. Residents are asked to bring their own bags.

The shelter at Leonardtown High School was opened Saturday morning and pets will be sheltered at the county fairgrounds.

St. Mary’s is out of bags for sand at this point but sand is still available, according to a release this morning from the county.

Residents are advised to tune in to local radio and television news stations for emergency alerts and actions.