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Maryland Prepares And Waits For Hurricane Irene

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REISTERSTOWN, Md. (WJZ)– The waiting game. As Hurricane Irene swirls our way, the East Coast prepares for a hard hit of heavy rain and whipping wind.

Weijia Jiang tells us what the state is doing to prepare for this storm.

Governor Martin O’Malley had a conference call with the president Friday morning because the state is working very closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide local jurisdictions any resources they might need. They’re also talking about how to deal with the potentially devastating aftermath.

O’Malley and the heads of every state agency are camped out at the Maryland Emergency Operations Center in Reisterstown, processing every model of Hurricane Irene as she inches closer by the second.

Not mincing any words, he calls it “a monster storm.”

“This is the real deal,” he said. “This is a big, deadly and dangerous storm.”

“Not only will it have the wind and the surge issues that we’ve dealt with in the past, but now we’re going to deal with 100 mile an hour winds, sustained winds for a good period of time,” explained Richard Muth of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Priorities include handling evacuations along the coast, monitoring bridges and roads that may need to be shut down, and deploying help. The state National Guard and federal troops are in place. So are utility workers expected to handle a widespread power outage. BGE has called on help from as far south as Mississippi.

“Our goal, of course, is to restore service as safely and quickly as possible, but we think this storm has the potential to cause upwards of 500,000 outages,” BGE spokesperson Linda Foy said. “So, if we see a storm with that sort of impact, it’s going to take several days.”

In vulnerable areas like Bowleys Quarters, home and boat owners are preparing too after 2003′s Isabel flooded the entire waterfront community.

“Our concern is that we will get flooded and water will get in the house and do damage,” one Bowleys Quarters resident said.

“The lesson I learned from Isabel is, I can’t stop the water from coming in,” explained another. “It’s going to come in.”

The governor said everyone should have enough supplies and medication to last 72 hours. He, along with the rest of the management team, will be working all day and night starting Saturday, until the storm rolls through.

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The City of Baltimore has declared a state of emergency Friday night. The city is providing load after load of sandbags for residents to board their homes and businesses.

Meghan McCorkell was in Fells Point, where officials are telling people to prepare for the worst.

As Hurricane Irene barrels towards Maryland, the fear factor is rising.

“It’s nerve-wrecking. It really is. It’s nerve-wrecking. We’ll see,” said Toshia Johnson, a Baltimore resident who is preparing for the hurricane.

“We’ve gone to the grocery store. We’ve stocked up. So we’re just kind of waiting it out,” Nicole Smalley said.

While some businesses try to make light of the storm, they know Irene is no joke.

“This is the real deal,” O’Malley said. “This is a big, deadly, dangerous storm.”

Everyone is pitching in, filling sandbags in Fells Point.

“I didn’t fill them. I just holded them up,” 6-year-old Xander Lucio said.

As people stock up on supplies, the city is ordering cars to get out of the flood zone.

Drivers here in Fells Point are being warned to move any cars south of Eastern Avenue off the streets by Saturday afternoon.

Free parking is being offered starting at 8 a.m. at the Caroline Street garage, the Fleet and Eden garage and the Edison parking lot.

“Everyone has to be on high alert and make sure they have what they need to get through this,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

“We’ve got pumps,” said Bill Irvin of Kooper’s Taven. “We’ve got all kinds of things just to protect us.”

Irvin knows how dangerous the hurricane can be after having faced Isabel.

“You’ll see the boats there will be on the street,” he said. “They’ll come up that far. It’s going to be scary.”

Preparation is the key until we know what wrath Irene will bring. The mayor is warning all residents to get ready ahead of the storm. Because once it’s here, it will be too late.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– People on both sides of the Bay Bridge are moving to higher ground, including in our state’s capital. Monique Griego has more on how Annapolis is preparing for the worst.

The mayor is asking everyone in the low-lying areas to evacuate.

Local business owners are also preparing for the worst.

Still, that didn’t stop people from heading to City Dock to enjoy, one last night before Irene is expected to hit.

As the clouds rolled in over Annapolis, people flooded the streets of city dock less than 24 hours before Irene is expected to flood it with water.

“It’s tomorrow, we’ll get something good to eat. Then go home, get things out of our basement and get ready as much as we can,” said Lewis Biggers, an Annapolis resident.

Tourists enjoyed the calm before the storm, as shop owners stocked up on sandbags. The city handed out almost 2,500. But they went fast. Now people are packing up and moving out.

“We started clearing out around 3:30 p.m. and are trying to move everything out and wait for the flood,” said business owner David George.

The city Emergency Operations Center is already up and running. The mayor is asking everyone in low-lying areas to evacuate before it’s too late.

“It is the height of selfishness for people to put not only themselves but emergency responders in danger,” Annapolis Mayor Joshua Cohen said.

In Eastport, homeowners are tying things down before leaving.

“We’re leaving here this evening,” Annapolis resident William Goodman said. “We should be out by 10 o’clock.”

Back at City Dock, one shop holds an eerie reminder of the damage caused by the last hurricane.

When Isabel hit in 2003, this entire area flooded with several feet of water, including the Market House. This time shop owners there aren’t taking any chances.

They’re wrapping up or moving things to higher ground. While no one knows what’s to come, people here don’t think Irene is overhyped.

“I wish it would just blow out to sea but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Goodman said.

Annapolis police will be patrolling evacuated areas Friday night to make sure there isn’t any looting. City leaders say Annapolis High School will be used as a temporary shelter.

To check if you live in a flood-prone area, and for precautions on what you can do if you do, visit the Maryland Emergency Agency website.

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