"This really wasn't that bad at all," said Fells Point resident Mike McDaniel, who was walking his dog Tuesday morning. After Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003, which hit Baltimore's lowlands hard, residents became more aware of potential storms dangers and took extra precautions this time, McDaniel said. 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.
"This was a serious storm," she Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at a news conference Tuesday morning. "Our police, fire, EMS were all out in full force last night and we responded to every single 911 call and our police were highly visible," throughout the city, she said.
Rawlings-Blake said that there emergency incidents were easier to control overnight in part because of a road-use restriction that was instituted Monday at 6 p.m. and lifted at noon Tuesday.
At least 230 trees have fallen throughout the city; about half are in streets. The city has 35 crews out working to remove them, the mayor said. Among the trees that topped into roadways was a Osage Orange tree along Greenspring Avenue that was estimated to be at least 400 years old, according to the Friends of Druid Hill Park.
About 138,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers without power at 5 p.m. Tuesday, about 12,000 of those customers are in Baltimore. Baltimore County had the most outages in the region — about 41,900. Still, that was fewer than officials expected and under the number of outages caused by Hurricane Irene last year.
Rawlings-Blake had asked to ask people to stay off Baltimore's roads until noon so that emergency and electrical repair crews could reach trouble spots, said Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake.
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 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 and rescheduled it for Saturday. The department will focus on debris removal Tuesday and street sweeping will not be conducted.
The city's morning road-use restriction does not apply to public safety officers or hospital employees and other medical providers. Businesspeople who have pre-registered with the Corporate Emergency Access System, a credentialing system that the city uses in emergencies, are allowed on the streets so that their companies can continue to offer continuous service, he said.
Though no other local governments have instituted driving bans, other counties were asking people to stay off the roads while emergency crews got to work.
"Unless absolutely essential, please stay off the roads a little longer as utilities, roads department and emergency crews get their first daylight look at things and start the recovery," said Mike Dixon, a spokesman for the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.
About 184,500 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers without power at 1 p.m. Tuesday, about 15,400 of those customers are in Baltimore. Anne Arundel had the most outages in the region — about 51,200, about a quarter of the county's homes. Still, that was fewer than officials expected and under the number of outages caused by Hurricane Irene last year.
"Anne Arundel County is typically in the cross-hairs," County Executive John R. Leopold said Tuesday morning. "We have more than 500 miles of shoreline and our low- lying areas are always susceptible. But we didn't take as big a hit as other jurisdictions."