WASHINGTON – Local counties are doing what they can to prepare for the sucker punch meteorologists expect Hurricane Sandy will deliver to the D.C. area.
The United Way of the National Capital Area wants residents of D.C., Maryland and Virigina in non-life threatening situations to calls 211 with storm-related problems like finding shelter, power, food or other resources.
Area shelters are open. Here are the locations of shelters.
Maryland also has a list of shelters across the state.
Gov. Martin O’Malley declared a state of emergency Friday in Maryland to provide assistance to local emergency managers. The state has activated 450 members of the Maryland National Guard, O’Malley said Sunday.
President Barack Obama declared an emergency in Maryland and ordered federal agencies to help state and local governments respond to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Maryland state government will be closed Monday and the state also canceled early voting for Monday.
O’Malley says the state will offer an additional day of early-voting Friday. And further voting hour changes are possible depending on the weather.
“It’s going to be a real rough 24-hour stretch here,” O’Malley told WTOP Sunday. “So we have closed virtually every school district in the state. We’ve closed state government. We’ve closed the Metro, the MARC rail, even closed the Port of Baltimore, which we rarely ever do in advance of a storm. This is very serious and deadly conditions and we’re taking every precaution and being as prepared as we can.”
He says Maryland residents have heeded warnings and are leaving low-lying and coastal areas, especially the Ocean City area where 7- to 8-foot waves are expected.
“The people of our state I believe are acting responsibility and preparing to protect their own families and hunker down for the next couple of days,” O’Malley says.
Chris Voss, who runs Montgomery County’s emergency management, says county staff is preparing gear and teams to respond.
“We’ve already started putting in a staffing plan, we’re preparing some of our specialized teams. That’s everything from swift water rescue to urban rescue” Voss says.
He says beyond staffing, his teams are making last-minute checks. “(We are) fueling generators, checking that equipment, checking dams, putting up some reminders to the community as well … making sure the community has some idea of what they should be doing,” Voss says.
The county has cancelled its trash and recycling collections on Monday and Tuesday.
Prince George’s County has suspended trash collection countywide Monday.
Susan Hubbard says the county’s public works crews spent the weekend surveying for low-hanging branches or weak trees to help reduce the extent of expected power- outages.
“They’ve been looking at the trees to try to address anything they can in conjunction with the utility companies, so that folks won’t lose power,” she says. “They have been looking at the storm drains, clearing those storm drains that may have had debris or leaves in them.”
Anne Arundel County opened its emergency operations center at noon Sunday. Annapolis High School will have a pet-friendly shelter opening 3 p.m. Sunday.
The county is maintaining its Facebook page to keep residents aware of available resources.
There will be free parking in all four city garages for city residents. The mayor encourages all residents to move their cars into the garages or into other sheltered areas to keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles and utility crews.
Howard County is tracking the storm and offers an alert system for residents to stay up to date with resources in the county.
Calvert County government officials recommend residents who live within 100 feet of the Calvert Cliffs or have homes in low-lying flood-prone areas consider voluntary evacuations of their homes.
The storm may pose a danger for unstable cliff areas.
He also ordered that executive branch agencies statewide will be closed Monday. Only essential employees should report to work.
In Arlington County, officials are ramping up emergency staff monitoring the storm’s path carefully.
The county has an expansive list of how to prepare for the storm, contact numbers for residents to have on hand and a digital preparedness kit available. The county also offers email and phone alerts to residents.
The D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency is preparing generators to operate pumps on low-lying roads in the event of power outages.
Residents can contact 311 for any storm-related questions.
DDOT already has generators in place at major intersections. If power is disrupted, traffic signals will continue to work, and DDOT says in a news release that traffic control officers will be sent out to direct traffic wherever there is an outage.
Public Works is also postponing Monday’s bulk collections and notifying residents of the new day. Also, the city is asking residents to bag their leaves so they don’t collect in the storm drains and cause flooding.
The city also says there will be no parking enforcement Monday.
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