Utilities, Metro prepping for possible mega-storm

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – While Hurricane Sandy’s track isn’t clear at this point, the electric companies and Metro are preparing for what could be a rough few days.

The hurricane could combine with a cold front to produce what some forecasters call a mega-storm.

“We’re just keeping a very close eye on it, and making adaptations to our planning accordingly,” says Dominion Power spokeswoman LeHa Anderson.

For her company, that means preparations from North Carolina, up the Virginia coast and into the Shenandoah Valley, she says.

At Pepco, which has been under intense scrutiny for poor performances in previous storms, spokeswoman Myra Oppel says the utility is locking in extra help now.

“We have more than 400 contractors already working on our system here available (to us), so we are locking in to make sure those will be available for initial storm restoration,” says Oppel.

BGE also is making plans for the storm.

Forecasts say they should know by late Friday if the storm is headed into this region.

Christopher Geldart, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, says workers are cleaning out basins that collect storm water, especially in neighborhoods that are prone to flooding. They’re also preparing generators to operate pumps on low-lying roads in the event of power outages.

Metro is also gearing up for the storm. General Manager Richard Sarles says they are moving equipment and checking pumps that can be used to remove high water similar to what they did in preparation for Hurricane Irene last year. The biggest worry is street flooding. “Sometimes there’s local flooding and you have to have bus detours,” Sarles says. He suggests riders listen to local media to get details on such problems.

Power is also a big issue for Metro, but Sarles says the utilities do put the transit system on a priority list for power restoration.

Emergency Preparation

If the storm is coming toward the area, you’re advised to fill your car’s gas tank since power outages can affect local gas stations.

Filling bathtubs with water in advance of the severe weather also is encouraged.

Here is a suggested list for your family or business’ emergency kit.

  • Battery-operated clock radio set to WTOP
  • Flashlights – not candles
  • Fresh batteries
  • Corded telephone. You can hear WTOP on a landline at 202-380-9977.
  • Fully charged cellphone so you can check WTOP.com.
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Water – 1 gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
  • First aid kit
  • Local maps
  • Blankets

For information about power outages in your area, contact your utility company:

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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