Governor Martin O'Malley Urges Caution As Storm Could Cause Flooding and Hazardous Conditions
ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 10, 2011)–Governor Martin O’Malley today urged all citizens to check news, weather and traffic reports before traveling as torrential rains bare down on the East Coast. Flooding may occur anywhere and cause the potential for road closures, downed trees or power lines. Drivers are asked to exercise caution when driving and be aware of firefighters, State Highway (SHA) crews, power crews, and law enforcement handling emergencies on state and county roadways. SHA crews will place high water signs and barricades throughout the day, but there may be unmarked areas so motorists must be extremely cautious.
“Rain and flooding are significant forces of nature that citizens tend to underestimate and for which everyone should be prepared,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland’s emergency response and preparedness agencies remain focused on monitoring this event, supporting local jurisdictions as needed, and ensuring all Marylanders are prepared and conduct themselves sensibly throughout this storm.”
The Maryland State Police Aviation Command is preparing for post storm recovery efforts if needed. All seven helicopter sections will be operational as soon as the weather permits. State Police helicopters are often called upon to conduct hoist rescues for persons trapped in fast moving water. State Police helicopter teams work in cooperation with local fire and rescue personnel who are part of regional Helicopter Emergency Aerial Teams (HEAT). These teams regularly train with State Police helicopter crews to assist with hoist rescues. Due to the flooding potential today, regional HEAT teams are on standby to support State Police aerial rescues if needed.
MEMA, the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland State Police recommend citizens take the following preparedness actions and choose Safety for Life by using the following tips:
- Report any EMERGENCY by dialing 911
- Troopers remind motorists that Maryland law requires them to have their headlights on when their windshield wipers are on. Headlights significantly increase vehicle visibility which is especially important during inclement weather.
- Check your route to insure roadways are open and passable.
- Drivers are urged to reduce speed when traveling on wet roads, regardless of the speed limit. Hydroplaning can occur even at slower speeds. The potential for hydroplaning increases significantly the more water there is on the roadway and the higher the speed of the vehicle.
- Keep alert for animals, such as deer, that will be fleeing dangerous areas and crossing roadways.
- Stay alert for traffic signal issues related to power outages. Remember the rules of the road.
- Allow extra travel time as downed trees and wires may be blocking roads.
- Do not drive or walk thru standing water. Eighty percent of flood-related deaths occur in vehicles. Two feet of rapidly moving water can float a bus and six inches can knock a person off his or her feet.
- Avoid downed or damaged power and transmission wires and cables.
- If power goes out in your community, check on your neighbors to make sure they are okay
- If you use a generator in a power outage, make sure it is properly vented and kept away from the house.
- If you are using a chain saw to remove downed trees, practice chain saw safety. If you are not experienced in the use of a chain saw, have someone else perform the job.
- Remember floodwaters take days to make their way downstream and continue to do so even when the rain stops and the sun shines. Never underestimate the power and speed in which floodwaters can rise and impact property and the safety of residents.
For more information on preparedness, please visit www.mema.state.md.us and follow MEMA on TWITTER at @MEMA_feeds or follow Governor O’Malley @GovernorOMalley for storm updates and alerts. Motorists are urged to frequently check SHA’s website at www.roads.maryland.gov and click "CHART" for real-time traffic information. For quick updates, follow SHA on Twitter @MDSHA.