Following Thursday’s declaration of a State of Emergency by Governor Martin O’Malley, local government officials began preparing for Hurricane Irene. County officials joined by Directors of Emergency Services, Public Works, and Transportation gathered to discuss emergency evacuation plans and develop campaigns on how to keep residents safe during the impending storm. Serving as the front line of defense, county governments released information on hurricane preparedness, opened emergency shelters, and a substantial went as far as issuing mandatory evacuations as precautionary measures to ensure the safety of residents.
During the hurricane, local officials worked directly with state officials in closing down facilities and roadways that became unsafe for motorists due to high winds and flooding. As reported by The Baltimore Sun:
Just before 11 p.m. Saturday, St. Mary’s County issued a 911 Code Red emergency notification to residents downstream from St. Mary’s Lake Dam of a potential dam failure. According to the county website, failure of the dam could cause significant flooding.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge closed to traffic around 7:30 p.m., after winds exceeded 55 mph according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The Port of Baltimore closed after the Chesapeake Bay closed to cargo ship traffic at 8 p.m.
Smith Island in the bay was evacuated early Saturday, and Somerset County officials recommended that residents evacuate any flood-prone areas, emergency planner Victoria Lloyd said. Conditions in the county deteriorated overnight, with wind gusts exceeding 50 mph.
On Sunday and today county governments continue to facilitate efforts to clear debris, return electricity, and reopen closed roads. While areas throughout the state continue to grapple with the lingering effects of Irene , county websites offer up-to-date information on dealing with these impacts.