Montgomery County public safety officials and residents, mindful of recent weather disasters that have meant multiple days without power, marshaled resources and hunkered down in anticipation of the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Public school classes were canceled for Monday and Tuesday, as well as after-school activities. County Executive Ike Leggett announced late Sunday that Montgomery County government offices would be closed at least through Monday.
Federal offices in the Washington area are closed Monday, the Office of Personnel Management announced Sunday. Non-emergency employees will be granted administrative leave.
Flooding and lack of power are the two biggest threats from a system that government forecasters say will be hundreds of miles wide and slow-moving. Gov. Martin O'Malley called it a "killer storm" likely to mean massive outages. He said the state was at its highest state of readiness and National Guard troops were on hand to assist.
Rain, with heavy downpours, was expected through at least Tuesday, reaching 4-6 inches, with high winds and gusts up to 65 mph.
Montgomery County has canceled its trash and recycling collections on Monday and Tuesday and O'Malley announced that early voting on Monday was canceled. For more information and updates on early voting, visit www.777vote.org.
Metrorail, Metrobus or MetroAccess service is suspended after closing Sunday until further notice, according to a press release from WMATA.
Officials with the Maryland Transit Administration have also cancelled all MARC train service on Monday as well.
"This is expected to be a slow moving/long lasting system with gusty tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and flooding," a county news release said.
Pepco said it had activated all its field personnel including utility crews from states as far away as Alabama and Louisiana.
“Pepco has committed all its resources to Hurricane Sandy," a company statement said. It called Sandy a storm of "enormous proportions" expected to inflict extensive damage to the electric system.
“Because of the magnitude of the storm, we will not be issuing estimated restoration times until the storm has passed and a preliminary damage assessment has been conducted,” said the statement.
To report an outage or downed wire call Pepco’s Call Center at 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662), and the company warned residents not to go near downed lines.
Fire and rescue, and police officials will be in emergency mode and will have extra personnel on hand, officials said.
Transportation crews will also have increased staffing and tree crews will be responding to emergencies and beginning major cleanup beginning Wednesday.
Emergency shelters will be open beginning noon Monday at three sites – White Oak Recreation Center, Mid-County Recreation Center, and Bohrer Park Recreation Center in Gaithersburg. An animal shelter will be set up at White Oak.
The county reminded residents to stay off roads during the storm if possible and that as of Oct. 1, drivers approaching a non-functioning traffic signal must stop before entering the intersection and yield to pedestrians and vehicles in the intersection.
Comprehensive preparedness information is available on the county’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov.
The county also asked residents to check on neighbors and friends.
Other actions it suggested included:
• Stocking/re-stocking emergency supply kits (including extra batteries, etc.) prior to Sunday evening.
• Keeping outdoor drains clear of trash, leaves and branches so rainwater can easily flow, reducing possible flooding.
• Keeping up to date with local conditions – follow TV and radio reports from your area, or visit www.weather.gov (http://mobile.weather.gov on your phone) for the latest forecast.
• Remembering food safety – power outages and flooding may happen as a result of a tropical storm or hurricane, so have a plan for keeping food safe. Have a cooler on hand to keep food cold, and group food together in the freezer so it stays cold longer.
• Having an adequate communication plan - be sure friends and family know how to contact you. Teach family members how to use text messaging as text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call can’t get through.
• Keeping in mind, hurricanes bring heavy rains, storm surges, and possible flooding events. Avoid walking or driving through any flooded areas – it takes only six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult and two feet to move a vehicle. Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
Critical Safety Information
- Dial 9-1-1 for a life-threatening emergency;
- Call 3-1-1 (240-777-0311 from a cell phone) for questions regarding County Government services, programs and/or issues or go to www.MC311.com for online help. MC311.com is available on smart phones. The MC311 call center will open at 6 a.m. Monday and be activated to provide information throughout the duration of the effects of Hurricane Sandy;
- Call 301-279-8000 for police-related non-emergency calls.
To find the latest Hurricane Sandy forecast from the National Hurricane Center go to www.hurricanes.gov (http://hurricanes.gov/mobile from a cell phone).
For more information or assistance from Montgomery County government go to http://www.mc311.com or call 3-1-1 (240-777-0311 from a cell phone).