Frederick County officials say the coordination among agencies went very well.
It was one year ago that Frederick County and the rest of the east coast were recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
Director of Emergency Preparedness Seamus Mooney says the storm hit Frederick County on Monday, October 29th, 2012. But he says the county started preparing days ahead of time. "Road crews started pre-placing barriers on roads that we know flood. And they started checking their equipment, their chain saws, pole saws, things like that, to make sure they were all functioning," he says. "Fire and rescue started topping off their generators at each fire station, checking their equipment. Overall, making sure they were ready to respond to the condition."
Mooney says Frederick County opened up its emergency operations center that evening at 6:00.
Superstorm Sandy battered the east coast up as far up as New England, leaving damage in its wake, with the most severe in New York and New Jersey. It brought a 13-foot storm surge along the coast, and 115-mile-per-hour sustained winds.
Frederick County didn't have that type of damage, but Mooney says our area didn't escape unscathed. "We had roughly 140 roads closed at the high point. Some combination of high water, downed trees, downed power lines, some roads had all three. So we had a lot of damage there. We had some minor damages to homes, trees falling into houses," he says.
Mooney says the cooperation was very positive between various governmental agencies, such as fire and rescue, law enforcement, highways and public works, as well as non-governmental entities like the Red Cross. "Everyone felt the coordination aspect went very well. Communication was very good from the county down to the municipalities in identifying areas and needs," he says.
But he says there needs to be more of an effort to get Potomac Edison crews to the scene of downed power lines a little quicker. "Once a wire's involved in a downed tree in the roadway, we basically have to wait for the power company to come and turn off the power, and work our way through," he says. "Obviously, that can be a Catch-22 because they may outside trying to work their way in, but there's trees in the way."
Mooney says the county will be working with Potomac Edison to resolve this problem. He says there were more than 30,000 outages in the county, but many were restored very quickly.
Although Frederick County was prepared for the weather, Mooney says there were times when none of the highway workers could get out on the roads due to dangerous conditions. "We actually had to bring everyone off the road because there were trees coming down and the wind was so high that it was basically unsafe for people to work," he says. "We were only responding to emergency calls."
With the possibility of severe storms coming in the future, Mooney says residents need to be prepared as well. He says that includes making a plan for where to go if you and your family need to evacuate the home, or can't get home. They should also make an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water and important documents; and staying informed.