On Anniversary of Sandy, Counties are More Prepared

On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Maryland’s counties look at the improvements they have made, as reported in the Sun.

Hurricane Sandy blew the waters of the Little Annemessex River into living rooms across the Somerset County town of Crisfield one year ago, displacing hundreds of families, some still homeless a year later.

Their numbers began to shrink Monday when charity workers dedicated the first two houses to be rebuilt since the storm. Many others have been repaired.

In Garrett County, power outages caused the biggest problems, with as many as 80 percent of county residents without electricity during the storm, the Sun reports.  This year, the County hopes that bolstering its emergency management department will aid any disaster response.

Soon after the storm, officials began pursuing plans for an emergency operations center. The new facility has been installed in an unused conference room at the Garrett County Airport near Oakland. And a full-time emergency management director also has been appointed, after the county previously made the job part-time.

The new center includes large video screens, a “Smart Board,” and phone lines and broadband Internet coverage. Still in the works is a generator for the facility and more training for the 40 county, state and federal employees who will be on call to man it.

“We are leaps and bounds ahead; we’ve got some work to do yet but we’re really getting there,” said John Frank, the county’s new emergency manager.

Near Baltimore and in Howard County, officials are working to reduce the potential for flooding and improve power resiliency.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said this month they plan to spend $1.2 million to remove the Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River in Catonsville, as well as another dam in Centreville on the Eastern Shore, to prevent risks from dam failure.

In Howard County, officials broke ground Monday on an $8.1 million electrical protection system that will help prevent power-outage-related overflows at the Little Patuxent wastewater treatment plant in Savage.

For more information, see the full story in the Baltimore Sun.