Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The storm hit fast and hit hard. In many communities, it had a devastating impact.
Mike Hellgren reports people are struggling to cope with the aftermath.
The furious rain and wind howled in the darkness. Huge gusts toppled trees like matchsticks and ripped some houses apart, sending people running for cover.
“I never really saw this type of wind blow up before,” said Paul Abrams. “It was pretty wicked.”
In the daytime, the damage was clear. Ray Barnes’ Chevy was a loss, putting him at a loss for words.
“There’s no words to explain that. None at all,” Barnes said. “I didn’t even want to come out here this morning. I look at what could have happened–I could have been in the car at the time.”
His neighbor now has no power and a son who has nightmares.
“He was terrified,” said Dominick Fowlkes. “I was looking out the window and it looked like the lightning was right next door.”
For many here, this surprise storm has tested their patience and their faith. And they can’t forget what they saw and what they heard.
“I was just sitting out on my front porch and I just turned around and the next thing I know, it’s lightning, it’s thundering, wind’s blowing really hard,” said Jeshua Travers. “It actually sounded like a freight train coming by. Four bolts of lightning hit this area back to back and took out a few good trees and some telephone poles.”
City and county officials say crews are out to assess the damage.
“Our Public Works crew is out there, assisting with tree removal, which will take a long time. It’s almost reminiscent of the hurricane damage we had last fall. It’s going to take some time,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “I think everyone was caught a little off guard by the storm. Obviously from the county perspective, our job is to try and assist BGE and get the trees down and out of the roadways and make sure structures are safe. To the extent we can [assist BGE], we’re going to do everything we can.”
Trees came down across Baltimore, causing the mayor to activate the city’s emergency operations center.
“Right now, we’re responding to the calls for service for trees that are in the roadway,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “BGE has said that this is the third-largest outage in the mid-Atlantic region in history. The others were hurricanes. This was unexpected. Everyone in the mid-Atlantic region is struggling. The city is doing its part to remove trees.”
More than 100 trees have been knocked down, the mayor said.
In a statement, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked residents to use 311 to report downed trees and to remember that 911 is only for emergencies. She also asked residents to take care of each other.
“With many of our residents without power, it is important that citizens check on elderly and disabled neighbors throughout the day, especially those without power or air conditioning,” Rawlings-Blake said. “During extended periods of extreme heat, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Seniors and those with underlying medical conditions should be especially careful.”
“Look out for each other. If you have friends or relatives or neighbors that are elderly or have young children, just check on their welfare, see if they’re OK. If you have power, invite them over,” said Ed McDonough, MEMA. “We have to look out for each other, we have to help each other in these times and this is a great opportunity to do that.”
One large tree crashed down in front of the WJZ studios, blocking access to the top of Television Hill.
Photographer Kunta Stanley was out in the worst of the storm.
“There was a lot of heavy rain, a lot of lightning, a lot of thunder, a lot of wind,” Stanley said.