Irene hits Laurel

A tree on Montgomery Street was uprooted during Hurricane Irene Saturday night, and fell on a parked, unoccupied car. (Staff photo by Jen Ryder, Patuxent Publishing / August 28, 2011)


Downed trees, blocked roads and some street flooding were the calling cards left by Hurricane Irene, downgraded Sunday to a tropical storm, as wind and rain ripped through the Laurel area Saturday night and Sunday morning.

City officials said the weather station at Laurel High recorded a wind gust as high as 59 miles per hour during the worst of the storm, and that Laurel received approximately 6 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.

Montgomery Street resident Paul Caron said he heard a "large boom" and his power went out when a maple tree in his front yard was uprooted and flopped across the street around 9 p.m. Saturday.

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"I looked out the bedroom window and saw — that," he said Sunday, pointing to the tree that brought down power lines, blocked the road and came to rest with its top branches on the hood of an unoccupied Saturn parked across the street.

Caron said the car belongs to his son Andy's girlfriend, Kim Hokanson, and that they couldn't get the car's doors to open after the tree crashed on its roof.

Public Works Director Paul McCullagh said the tree that fell from Caron's yard was too large for the city's equipment and a contractor would need to remove it before the street would be open to traffic.

Caron said having his nearly 100-year-old tree fall was "quite a shock," and that he plans to replace it.

'But it won't be a maple," he said.

Roads closed, lights out

The city closed its Emergency Operations Center Sunday morning as Public Works and Code Enforcement crews continued to clear trees and attempt to open roads.

In addition to the 300 block, traffic was also blocked from entering the 400 block of Montgomery Street Sunday because of downed power lines, andBaltimore Gas and Electric crews were on the scene to reinstall the lines.

On Sunday, city officials also reported that the intersection of Cherry Lane and Pirate Lane was closed with several trees down across the road, and the 1200 block of Brooklyn Bridge Road had limited access because of flooding.

Prince George's County officials closed Contee Road near Olive Branch because of flooding at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Many neighborhoods remained without power Sunday, including portions of Wellington, Laurel Hills and Old Town, and several intersections were without traffic lights.

Overall, Laurel's damage was "minor-type stuff" for a storm this size, McCullagh said Sunday.

Special pick-ups for debris

The city has scheduled a special pick-up of yard debris on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Residents need to call Public Works at 301-725-0088 by noon Monday to be added to the list for pick-ups.

'Caution is the word'

The National Weather Service downgraded Irene to a tropical storm as it made landfall over Coney Island Sunday shortly after 9:30 a.m. But emergency officials cautioned that high winds expected throughout the day could still lead to more downed trees and power lines. Flooding in many areas still remains possible with continued storm surges.