Post-storm scenes

Among the first orders of business: Coffee and downed trees

August 28, 2011

Annapolis residents line up at Starbucks and diner

Apparently the first things you think of upon waking up after a tropical storm has passed through your community is coffee.

The Starbucks at Annapolis' Harbor Center suffered no storm damage and no loss of power, but delayed opening until 10 a.m. Sunday anyway.

By the time the first employees arrived at the coffee shop, there was a crowd of irritated customers. They formed a line from the counter, out the door and down the sidewalk, that didn't disappear until almost 11:30.

The second thing you think about, especially if you are without power, is food.

The Double T Diner on West Street had a traffic jam in its parking lot and a line out the door.

"This is the place to be," said Rita Cordova, who was waiting with her nephew and her boyfriend. They lost power Saturday about 10:30 p.m.

Sunday is always a busy day at the Double T, said John Kolendrianos, one of the owners. But this Sunday, business was about 15 percent higher.

"We'll probably just grill something for dinner," said Ellen Kulp of Cape St. Clair. She was waiting for a table with her daughter and her niece. "We're hoping there is power tomorrow."

Susan Reimer

Irene a test run for storm surge project

Ming Li, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, had an academic as well as personal stake in Irene. He has been working to develop a computer model of storm surge and inundation precise enough to give emergency managers street-specific predictions of flooding so they can better target their evacuation orders and other preparations.

As Irene began its march up the East Coast, he said, he asked his students to gather wind and other data on the storm so they could be plugged into the model.

The model is being developed in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He said he was worried that the Chesapeake Bay would suffer high surges again, as it did during Isabel. Some predictions had put the storm's track into and even west of the bay. The storm did push water into the mouth of the bay as it came north from North Carolina into Virginia, causing relatively high surges.

But he said the storm's center stayed just off the coast, and the winds actually worked to counter that surge in places like Baltimore.

"I think we got lucky this time," he said.

Though the model worked in predicting the storm's surge, he said it still needs more work to prove itself before it's ready to be put in the hands of emergency managers.

—Timothy B. Wheeler

Search for trouble turns up little excitement

"We have a suspicious vehicle," said Cpl. Greg DeGiovanni into his radio. He called in the license plate, a temporary tag from Delaware: "X-ray, Charles, 3, 6, 2 ..."

DeGiovanni, a member of the Ocean City Police Department since 2000, was working a 12-hour shift scanning the northernmost streets of the resort town for things amiss.

In the first hour of a circuit that started around 4 p.m. Saturday, DeGiovanni had collected an errant real estate yard sign that threatened to cause injury if swept up by a strong gust; wrestled with a 40-foot accordion of styrofoam insulation that was left behind a restaurant under construction; checked his backyard fence (he said it always falls over in heavy rain); and called in a downed stop sign by the dunes.

Back to the "suspicious vehicle." The head and tail lights of the silver Grand Prix were on. The car was parked in a turn-around outside a boarded-up house. Looters? DeGiovanni wondered.

DeGiovanni stepped out into the stinging rain and held his cap to his head with one hand while feeling the hood of the car, to see if the engine was still warm, with the other. The wind whipped around him. He took out his flashlight and peered inside the vehicle. He ascended the steps to the house on stilts and knocked on the door.

A young woman with dark hair, wearing a tank top and black leggings, emerged. They talked. She came down to the car, barefoot, opened the door and turned off the lights.

A soaked DeGiovanni hopped back into the SUV looking slightly disappointed.

"They decided to stay for the storm and just forgot to turn off their headlights," he said.

Then, over his crackling walkie-talkie, came the command center again.

"We've got a request from the [National] Guard for some duct tape," dispatch said. "They've got some leaks."

—Steve Kilar

'Free firewood' in Roland Park

Roland Park neighbors Steve Lauria and Claude Edeline took matters into their own hands Sunday morning when high winds toppled an oak tree and a maple tree, blocking Keswick Road. Using a 30-inch bow saw, Lauria cut off several branches, which he and Edeline then hauled out of the road. It was slow going.

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