In addition to heavy rainfall expected from Hurricane Sandy, AccuWeather has placed a high wind warning for the Laurel area from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 p.m. Tuesday, calling for "a prolonged and significant 24- to 36-hour high wind event," which could lead to tree damage and power outages.
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe joined state and county officials in putting city departments on alert and declaring a local state of emergency Friday as Laurel prepares for Hurricane Sandy.
"Over the past few days the mayor has directed all departments to review emergency procedures
and evaluate resources," Laurel city spokesman Pete Piringer said Friday. "Forecasts and predictions indicate that the biggest threat will be wind and rain - power outages are a high probability."
Piringer said Laurel's Emergency Management Services is preparing the Emergency Operations Center for activation, and coordinating the resources of the city's public safety organizations (police, fire and EMS and code enforcement).
"The mobile command unit and mobile canteen unit are staffed and available," Piringer said Friday, adding that the city is coordinating with city volunteers groups such as CERT, and with BGE and WSSC.
Staff of Laurel's Public Works and Transportation have checked the department's vehicles and equipment and also road and storm drains.
Piringer said Parks and Recreation Department workers are making arrangements in the event that the city needs to open emergency shelters, and organizing transportation to the shelters, if necessary.
He also said the city has emergency generators at important facilities such as the Emergency Operation Center and the Laurel Police Department.
Breaking news and information will be posted on the city's media and community information line at 240-294-1307.
Residents urged to be prepared
Gov. Martin O'Malley declared a state of emergency Friday morning launching statewide storm preparation efforts led by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Prince George's County officials are using Twitter, Facebook, email and the Notify Me Prince George's alert system to urge resident to prepare for power outages and possible flooding in advance of emergencies that might come with the storm.
The county reminded residents to create an emergency kit, which should include a battery-operated radio and flashlights, and recommended that candles not be used during any power outages.
The county's Fire and EMS spokesman Mark Brady sent out simple instructions for preparing for a weather emergency: Stay informed, stay ready, stay safe; don't panic, stay calm and prepare.
Other preparedness tips from the county are:
• Ensure smoke alarms and CO detectors are tested and have fresh batteries.
• Consider purchasing bags of ice that can be stored in a freezer.
• Ensure cell phones, lap tops and tablets are completely charged.
• Ensure vehicles have a full tank of gas.
• Consider having a quantity of cash on hand in the event that ATMs and banks are out of power.
• Remove any objects in yards that could become airborne during periods of high winds. Secure larger items by tying them down.
• Clean and clear storm drains of any debris that could clog and back up rain water.
• Household generators should be positioned far enough away from residences to avoid CO finding its way inside. Remember to refuel after cool-down and use approved outdoor heavy-duty extension cords that are free of any rips and tears.
Brady suggests preparing by setting up a communications plan with family members and friends, and said that texting has been more reliable than cell phone calls and emails during times of high usage and outages.
For more storm preparedness information, go to Ready.gov.
This story has been updated.