As Hurricane Irene advanced toward Harford County Saturday evening, firefighters and other emergency responders were being kept busy responding to calls of wires down, utility poles on fire, at least one electric transformer knocked out and several trees falling into or onto houses, causing structural damages, officials reported.
As of about 10:15 p.m., sections of four Harford County roads were closed. Johnson Mill Road, Pine Street in Edgewood, Stafford Road in Susquehanna State Park and Wheel Road between Cedar Lane and Laurel Bush Road.The Bay Brook neighborhood in Havre de Grace, prone to flooding because Lily Run flows through it, was evacuated Saturday evening, according to Ben Lloyd, a spokesman for the Harford County government.
In addition, at about 9:40 p.m. Saturday the flash flood warning for Harford County was extended until 3:30 a.m. Sunday.
"Several reports of trees on homes with structural damage," Rich Gardiner, a spokesman for the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association, wrote in a text message. Gardiner said they were primarily in Abingdon, Bel Air and Joppa. "No injuries related to storm for now." That was as of about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
At about the same time, BGE officials were reporting the company had restored power to about 24,000 customers, but Harford County was not yet among the hardest hit areas. That was expected to change.
Rachel Lighty, a spokesperson for BGE, wrote in an email that "the utility expects the number of outages to increase significantly overnight as the peak of the storm passes through Central Maryland late this evening and into Sunday morning."
A big part of the problem was what Harford County was beginning to experience with fallen trees.
"Saturated ground coupled with a heavy tree canopy and high wind has caused whole trees and tree limbs to come down onto power lines and other electric equipment," Lighty wrote.
That scenario was expected to be repeated countless times before mid-day Sunday.
In advance of Hurricane Irene striking central and northeastern Maryland, Harford County government opened an emergency shelter at Patterson Mill Middle/High School, 85 Patterson Mill Road in Bel Air, beginning at noon Saturday. There were 10 to 15 people at the shelter at about 10 p.m. Saturday, Lloyd said.
According to a news release issued by the county shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, the shelter is pet friendly, and representatives from the Humane Society and Animal Control will be present to look after pets.
Harford Transit Link operated an emergency shuttle service from five locations until 9 p.m. Saturday to transport residents unable to drive to the shelter. The pick up points were:
Beards Hill Shopping Center – ShopRite Bus Stop (Beards Hill Road at Route 22) in Aberdeen;
Aberdeen Train Station Bus Stop (18 E. Bel Air Ave. at Route 40) in Aberdeen;
Edgewood Recreation and Community Center (1980 Brookside Drive) in Edgewood;
Havre de Grace Senior Activity Center (351 Lewis Lane) in Havre de Grace;
Joppatowne Shopping Center – Dollar Tree Bus Stop (Joppa Farm Road and Route 40) in Joppatowne.
In cases of medical emergency, citizens are advised to call 911.
State of Emergency declared
As Harford County earlier braced for expected impact from Hurricane Irene, the county executive declared a state of emergency.