- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
As Hurricane Sandy begins to make landfall Monday evening, Calvert County is taking precautionary steps to keep residents safe.
One of the biggest concerns of this storm is the expected number of power outages in the region.
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has “assembled, pre-storm, the largest group of linemen and service restoration personnel in our 75-year history,” a SMECO news release states.
According to the release, SMECO has been preparing for the storm for several days.
“We are assembling a historic workforce to respond to what we are anticipating will be a historic storm,” said Austin J. Slater, SMECO president and CEO, in the release. “We are expecting significant damage to our system, and we urge our customer-members to take the necessary precautions to prepare for an extensive, prolonged outage restoration period.”
Customers are asked to report outages by calling SMECO’s Outage Hotline at 1-877-747-6326. To report downed wires, customers are asked to call 1-888-440-3311. For more information on outages and measures SMECO is taking in preparation for the storm, go to www.smeco.coop.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has also mobilized a large fleet of workers to handle the anticipated effects of the storm.
According to a BGE news release, more than 3,000 employees, contractors and out-of-state linemen, tree personnel and support staff have been gathered “to prepare for extensive damage and widespread outages.”
“We continue to urge our customers to prepare and review their emergency preparedness plan with their family as we face the likelihood that Hurricane Sandy will result in extended, widespread power outages lasting several days,” Jeannette M. Mills, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE, said in the release.
Customers can report power outages and downed wires at 1-877-778-2222. For additional information on outages and measures being taken by BGE in preparation for the storm, go to BGE’s website at www.bge.com.
Calvert County Board of County Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) said Monday morning no decision has been made as to whether county government will be closed Tuesday. He added that there should be a decision in the next few hours. County government offices and schools were closed Monday.
The BOCC and Planning Commission public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday is contingent upon what happens with the county government, he said.
In addition, the county has recommended evacuation of residents on the cliffs of Calvert and in low-lying, flood-prone areas.
A shelter is open at Huntingtown High School, 4125 Solomons Island Road in Huntingtown, for those who need to relocate. There is a pet shelter in the field house of the school for any animal that can be confined in a carrier. Owners must provide food, water bowls, medications and proof of immunizations. Pet owners will shelter in the gymnasium of Huntingtown High School but must be responsible for the care of their animals.
For further information on closings, shelters, services and preparedness, check the county website at www.co.cal.md.us., or Comcast Channel 6.
The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack both have extra police officers on duty prepared to respond to emergencies in the county.
Det. Sgt. Al Paton, assistant commander of the MSP Prince Frederick barrack, said leave for all local troopers has been canceled and those who cannot report to their assigned barracks are working from their local barrack where they live. He said statewide, the MSP mobile field force has been activated. Troopers report to an area in central Maryland and get dispatched to different areas based on requests from local emergency personnel, Paton said.
“Basically we’ve mobilized everybody that’s available and they’re being dispatched throughout the state,” he said.
Paton said troopers are also at the county Emergency Operations Center coordinating with all local authorities.
Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said extra deputies and special operations team members are prepared and on standby to respond to any emergency. He said the sheriff’s office is also prepared with boats for water rescues if necessary.
“We’re monitoring everything,” Evans said, adding that just a few trees had been downed this morning but no roads were closed yet.
According to a news release from the county, bridges will close when sustained wind speeds exceed 50 mph. As of Monday at noon, all bridges in Maryland are under wind restrictions, which means that house trailers, empty box trailers or any vehicle that, in the opinion of law-enforcement personnel, may not safely cross the bridge will be prohibited from traveling the bridge.
Calvert Memorial Hospital has implemented its Hurricane Preparedness Plan and activated its command center Monday morning, said Kasia Sweeney, associate vice president for corporate communication at CMH.
She said as a precaution, the urgent care centers located in Dunkirk and Solomons will be closed Monday evening and anyone with urgent medical needs are encouraged to use the main emergency room at CMH in Prince Frederick.
In addition, Calvert Physician Associates, practices owned by CMH, will be closed Tuesday. For a complete list of closings and services available during the storm, check the hospital’s website at www.calverthospital.org.
In a statement released Friday, Kory Raftery, spokesman for the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, said, “In anticipation of potential challenges caused by Hurricane Sandy ... we are taking actions at the facility to stage and secure equipment, walk down the facility and ready the structures and water systems for both rain and high winds.”
During a short interview Monday morning, he said teams are in place at all three facilities as a precaution, adding that facilities have opened to plant workers and their families to ensure safety of the workers.
Both North Beach and Chesapeake Beach declared states of emergencies Sunday morning.
In North Beach, sandbags are available until 2 p.m. or until the sandbags are gone at the public works yard at 4030 11th St., said Mayor Mark Frazer. The sandbags are for town residents only and are first come, first serve.
Last night, Frazer said he had a meeting with all of the council members, town staff, sheriff’s office representatives, North Beach Volunteer Fire Department representatives and private communities associations “to make sure that our efforts were coordinated” and there were no gaps in areas of responsibility.
“I came away satisfied that all of the responders have a very clear understanding of what to do and when they will be needed,” Frazer said.
No town evacuations were ordered and no roads were closed as of 10:30 a.m. today, Frazer said. Both the beach and the pier are closed, Frazer said.
The town hall is open for regular business purposes and for residents who may have lost power to charge their electronic devices, Frazer said.
Chesapeake Beach has been preparing for Hurricane Sandy for about a week, said Mayor Bruce Wahl, including making sure all water and sewer pumping facilities are in working condition and testing all generators.
“We’ve spent the past week carefully going through and making sure that the infrastructure is in good shape, and it is,” Wahl said. “The town hall is closed today, the office functions are closed today, but the public works crew is fully staffed,” Wahl said. “We’re ready to do 24-hour shifts as necessary. … We’ve done pretty much everything we can think of to be sure that we’re taking care of the citizens here.”
In the event town residents lose power, the town hall will be made available to recharge all electronic devices and for personal needs, Wahl said.
Monday trash pick-up in the town ran on its normal schedule, but Tuesday trash pick-up is going to be postponed because the Appeal Landfill is closed, Wahl said. Until the Appeal Landfill is opened, trash will not be picked up from the south side of town, he said.
Sandbags were given out yesterday, and Wahl said if any resident needs sandbags today they can call the town hall and leave a message. Another option, Wahl said, is to respond to one of the “blast emails” he sent out to residents sign up for the email news alerts. A link to sign up for those alerts is posted on the left side of the town’s website.
Sandbags are also available for residents who need them to protect property at Appeal Salt Dome, 401 Sweetwater Road, Lusby; at Stafford Road Salt Dome, 335 Stafford Road, Barstow; and Mt. Hope Salt Dome, 92 Pushaw Road, Sunderland. Up to 20 sandbags per person may be picked up until 4 p.m. today. Residents should bring a shovel to fill the bags and may also bring their own bags to fill.