Superstorm Sandy mostly spares Maryland as it moves up coast

October 30, 2012|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

Central Maryland appears to have been spared the worst of Sandy's fury, which was delivered farther up the Atlantic Coast.

One man was killed after a tree fell on his home in Pasadena. A second was killed in a head-on collision in Clarksburg that officials said was connected to flooding.

No other deaths had been reported in the Greater Baltimore region as of 9:00 a.m., though four people in Howard County were hospitalized following carbon monoxide poisoning related to the use of a gas-powered generator.

Sandy — downgraded from hurricane status just before it made landfall — reached Atlantic City, N.J. at about 8 p.m. Monday. She left that state and the New York metropolitan area the most scarred.

Five were reported dead because of the storm in New York and three in New Jersey. Pennsylvania also reported three deaths and two have been recorded so far in Connecticut.

The hurricane's back end continued to hover over the East Coast Tuesday morning, dropping more rain onto ground already saturated by the five to eight inches of rain that has fallen in the past 48 hours across Central Maryland.

A flood warning remains effect until Tuesday afternoon for nearly the whole state. As the rains continue to fall, creeks and streams were expected to begin rising, according to Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Flooding in major rivers will peak on Wednesday, he added, with the Potomac expected to crest at 30 feet — nearly twice its normal level. Witt also said severe rains and winds would last through Tuesday but would likely taper toward normal by late morning Wednesday. Wind advisories were still in effect Tuesday morning for much of the state as well.

A blizzard warning is active until early this evening for all of Garrett County and half of Allegany County, as far east as Cumberland. Total snow accumulations in higher elevations may be has great as two feet, according to the National Weather Service. Four-to-eight inches are expected today.

Baltimore road restrictions will remain in effect until noon, as water levels could continue to rise and streets in low-lying areas remain flooded.

Water is overflowing from the harbor into parts of Fells Point but flooding appears to be far from the damage done by Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003.

"This really wasn't that bad at all," said Fells Point resident Mike McDaniel, who was walking his dog Tuesday morning. After Hurricane Isabel, he said, he believes people became more aware of the potential dangers and took extra precautions. The city began distributing sandbags to residents several days ago.

McDaniel felt the storm was not as bad as anticipated for the area, noting minor flooding along South Wolfe Street, between Thames and Aliceanna streets. He said his home was not damaged during the storm.

Nearly 200 trees have fallen throughout the city; about half are in streets, according to Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has received reports of about 200 downed power lines in the city. Forty-seven traffic intersections in Baltimore are out, though most are now being supplied by generators. Only 17 intersections were dark at around 7:00 a.m., O'Doherty said.

Rawlings-Blake has decided to ask people to stay off Baltimore's roads until noon so that emergency and electrical repair crews can reach trouble spots, O'Doherty said.

Although early reports make it appear that Baltimore has escaped the worst, reports of damage, downed trees and dangerous wires are likely to increase as the city's residents awaken and assess their yards and streets, he cautioned.

"Public safety is priority number one," said O'Doherty. Residents should report downed trees to 311 and downed power lines to BGE, he said. BGE is encouraging all customers whose power goes out — even customers with Smart Meters — to call 877-778-2222 to report the outage.

Personnel from the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management were "pre-staged" across the city to assist as calls came in to 311 and 911, backed by 15 emergency officials visiting from Indiana.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said her cell phone is fully charged, but she hasn't been inundated with calls from those in the city's North Central 14th district.

"I don't have a lot of input right now," she said. "I take that as a very good sign."

Clarke added that she's thankful that Baltimore seemed largely spared: "It's a true, true blessing. I think we all prayed."

Second District Councilman Brandon M. Scott agreed. "We dodged it," Scott said. "You can let out a breath." Sandy's impact was only a fraction of the effect of this summer's derecho that blackened every traffic light on Bel Air Road throughout the 2nd District.

Baltimore's Department of Public Works has suspended trash and recycling collection Tuesday. Makeup days will be scheduled after the storm, the department said. The department will focus on debris removal Tuesday and street sweeping will not be conducted.

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