County To Open Shelters At Noon

Montgomery County will open three shelters today in its continuing preparation for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, which Pepco says will lead to a potentially massive amount of power outages.

The shelters, which open at noon, are located at the White Oak Community Recreation Center (1700 April Lane, Silver Spring), the Activity Center at Bohrer Park (506 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg) and the Mid-County Community Recreation Center (2004 Queensguard Rd., Silver Spring).

The White Oak Community Recreation Center will also be open to pets. The Activity Center at Bohrer Park and the Mid-County Community Recreation Center are open to people only.

In an emergency briefing this morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) urged only those who must leave their homes because of damage or power outages to use the shelters.

The Gude Men’s homeless shelter (600 E. Gude Dr., Rockville) and Progress Place homeless shelter (8210 Colonial Lane, Silver Spring) are open.

Montgomery County is urging those who go to the shelters to bring certain items:

Those going to shelters are advised to bring prescription medicines, critical phone numbers, and any comfort items such as personal pillows. Residents taking their pets to the White Oak shelter are advised that the shelter will be capable of housing dogs, cats, and small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. The shelter will be staffed by the County Animal Services Division and the volunteer County Animal Response Team (CART).

County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) released a statement this morning, most of it focused on Pepco’s efforts to prepare for and fix expected power outages. Berliner said it could take a day and a half before crews can begin to restore power to neighborhoods:

After conferring with our County’s CAO, I feel confident that our County has prepared as well as we can for this storm.  It will intensify as the day goes on, peaking this evening, and staying for a day plus. The sustained winds and wet ground will undoubtedly result in extensive tree damage.

Of course, power is the key and the most vulnerable.  I have communicated directly with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, and he made it clear that they took full advantage of the lead time to prepare and press Pepco and the other utilities to do the same.

I have spoken with Pepco’s Regional President Thomas Graham and they feel that they have done everything they can do to prepare as well, starting last Wednesday.  The utilities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast that are expected to feel the effects of the storm have requested 15,000 more help through the “mutual assistance” process than exists, so Pepco will not be getting near its requested level of manpower.  They currently have or will soon have approximately 2,000 plus hands on deck.  Given the sustained level of winds, it could be more than a day and a half before crews can really even begin to restore power in neighborhoods.

I told Mr. Graham that I was rooting for them — we need them to be at their very best, including communications.

Our Council joins with so many others in urging everyone to be extra careful, take care of your families, look in on your neighbors, and . . . cross your fingers.

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