It looks like Charles County will be spared the wrath of Hurricane Dorian, which is currently lashing the Carolinas with heavy winds and rains but is expected to bounce back out to sea rather than driving up the Chesapeake Bay.
“Charles County could experience some light impacts from Hurricane Dorian, but all impacts will be minimal due to the forecasted track of the hurricane being well south of the County,” Michelle Lilly, assistant director of Charles County’s Department of Emergency Services, told the Maryland Independent in a written statement. “If we receive tropical storm force winds, our highest gusts [are] projected to be 30 mph. Rain is less than 3 inches and [there will be] no appreciable storm surge.”
The Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative has informed its contractors that they are free to travel elsewhere in anticipation of the storm.
“Once the storm passes us we will consider sending some of our crews to harder hit areas to help restore service,” SMECO spokesman Tom Dennison said.
Even though the impact on Charles County will be minimal, the hurricane season is not over and Dorian offers local residents an opportunity to refresh their memories on what to do in the event of a hurricane emergency. The Charles County government and the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative have provided the following information to help residents prepare.
First, it’s important to know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans, keep informed, and be ready to act if a warning is issued. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed by authorities.
Next, register for Charles County’s Citizen Notification System to receive updates and alerts from the county government, the public school system, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and the National Weather Service. To register for CNS, visit www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/CNS.
Prepare for a storm
- • Prepare an emergency kit that contains a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day), a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio and batteries, a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit, medications and medical items, toiletries and personal hygiene items, a cell phone and chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra cash and supplies for babies and pets.
- • If your water at home is supplied by a well, store extra water in clean jugs, bathtubs or laundry tubs.
- • Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries and stay tuned to local news bulletins and weather reports.
- • Develop a family communication plan. Know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated.
- • Trim trees and shrubs around your home so they are more wind-resistant.
- • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and drain spouts.
- • If someone in your household depends on electricity to operate life support systems, make plans for alternate sources of power or alternate lodging.
- • Consider installing a portable generator for emergencies. If you do, use extension cords to connect what you want to power directly to the generator. Place the generator outside, not in an attic, crawlspace or basement. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly. Make sure your generator is connected safely; a generator that is not connected safely can cause serious injury or death. When your power comes back on, turn off and disconnect your generator immediately.
When a hurricane is approaching
- • Check your emergency kit and replace or restock as needed.
- • Bring in any loose items that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, etc.).
- • Close all windows and doors in your home.
- • Turn off your propane tank.
- • Fill your car’s gas tank.
- • Install fresh batteries in your smoke detectors.
- • Listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
- • Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- • Make sure the oven and stove are off to prevent fires if the power comes back on.
After a hurricane
- • If the power has gone out, do not use lanterns or candles for illumination. They can cause fires.
- • Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from them. Let qualified SMECO crews handle the clearing and repair work. Report downed power lines to SMECO immediately by calling 1-888-440-3311.
- • If you plan to use a charcoal or gas grill for cooking, keep the grill outdoors.
- • Open the freezer and refrigerator as little as possible. This will help food stay fresh longer.
- • Are You Ready?: www.Ready.gov
- • Turn Around Don’t Drown: www.weather.gov/safety/flood-turn-around-dont-drown
- • Tornado Facts and Safety Tips: www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html
- • Severe Thunderstorm Safety: www.weather.gov/safety/thunderstorm
Charles County services available
- • Charles County government website: www.CharlesCountyMD.gov
- • Charles County government on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/CharlesCounty
- • Charles County government on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/CharlesCoMD
- • Charles County Government Television: Comcast channel 95 or Verizon channel 10, or online at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/media-services/ccgtv/ccgtv
Deal with power outages
- • Even if your home has a smart meter, report power outages by calling 1-877-74-SMECO (1-877-747-6326). Outages can also be reported online at www.SMECO.coop.
- • Report downed power lines to SMECO immediately by calling 1-888-440-3311.
- • Download the free SMECO 24/7 app and register for SMECO’s texting service at www.SMECO.coop/SMECO247.
- • Track power outages on SMECO power outage map at stormcenter.smeco.coop.