BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As Maryland waits for the full effect of Hurricane Sandy, Baltimore City officials activated emergency operations.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has announced mandatory travel restrictions starting at 6 p.m. on Monday until noon on Tuesday. That means residents will not be allowed on the roads after that time except for emergency personnel, hospital employees and medical providers.
“Our number one priority during the storm period is public safety,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We need folks to stay off the roads so that our first responders can focus 100 percent on real emergency incidents as they may occur. We are working closely with our hospitals and medical providers to ensure that their employees have safe routes to work.”
Monique Griego has more from city officials.
Rawlings-Blake addressed the city and she had a clear message: This storm is going to be very dangerous and it is also going to be unpredictable. She urged residents to stay indoors and take cover. The Baltimore police and fire departments said thousands of officers and firefighters will be on the streets with the National Guard that has been deployed.
If the weather gets severe, authorities said they will enforce mandatory travel restrictions and residents will not be allowed on the streets with the exception of emergency personnel.
The City Circulator service has been suspended and trash pick-up has been delayed. Several intersections in Baltimore neighborhoods have been closed because of potential flooding. Crews tell WJZ that anyone parked in a flood-prone area in Fells Point will be towed.
Rawlings-Blake also warned residents to brace for extended power outages.
Bob Maloney, emergency manager for the City of Baltimore, has the following advice to residents:
“I say there are three things: One is that, don’t underestimate the flooding due to the predictions on the surge. The water is going to need a place to go and the tides are abnormally high. That’s not going to change. Don’t take that lightly. The second thing is, we’re going to be experiencing some very high winds, higher than what we’ve ever seen in Baltimore. There’s going to be a lot of stuff blowing around, a lot of noise. There’s no need to panic. Stay calm. Like, if your roof comes down, just safely get out of the house, go to a neighbor. Call 911 or the fire department. We’re ready to respond. Police will respond to all emergencies. And the third thing is for hospital personnel. It’s very important that hospital people will be working around the clock. We’re going to do everything we can to keep designated routes open to the hospitals. So if you work in a hospital– Bayview or Hopkins or Good Samaritan– go on the website, look at the routes we’ve picked, know that if that’s a road that works, that’s going to be the best route.”
Griego: “It seems like the city anticipated that this could get pretty bad. Would you say that we have a lot of reinforcements out there right now?”
Maloney: “From this scenario, we’ve gained a lot. We never expected this would get this bad, a Category 1, now perching at [Category] 2, to get this close to us but we’ve done a lot of thinking at the city and the city’s good leadership, good planning, and we should be OK. We’re all in this together. What everybody needs to do is keep calm and do the right thing.”
Baltimore City residents can call 311 for the latest information on the city’s storm response and recovery efforts.