Big employers prepare to close if storm hits

Grace, Social Security, others watch and wait

Catholic Relief closes headquarters

February 05, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella

W.R. Grace and Co. handed out hundreds of snow scrapers to employees last winter, and this year put out "shoe grippers" at its office entryways. Both the scrapers and the grippers, which slide over shoes, will likely be put to good use today.

Like many big employers around the Baltimore area, the Columbia-based maker of chemicals and sealants was monitoring storm forecasts Thursday and preparing to shut down if the snow starts in the middle of today, as predicted.

"We're encouraging folks to take laptops home in case the storm arrives sooner than forecasters are predicting," said Andrea Greenan, a Grace spokeswoman. "Then they can stay in touch remotely."

The Social Security Administration, which employs 12,000 in Woodlawn, and Fort Meade, where some 35,000 people work, were among other big employers waiting and watching before deciding whether to tell employees to stay home or leave early. Catholic Relief Services decided Thursday to close its downtown Baltimore headquarters today.

Fort Meade would close "if we get some accumulation and it looks like it's dangerous to drive," said Mary Doyle, a Fort Meade spokeswoman. "Then we start shutting things down: the gym, the bowling alley and the PX."

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