As Superstorm Sandy washes through Towson, residents dig in

As Central Maryland braced itself for the brunt of Hurricane Sandy's wind and rain to arrive Monday evening, some Towson-area residents spent the earlier part of the day doing all they could to mitigate the anticipated flooding.

Chuck Linzey, 66, spent four hours Monday morning digging ditches along the sides of Round Oak Road, in Towson, in an effort to direct water to small off-road storm drains.

"I started planning on this three days ago," Linzey said.

Linzey pointed to the inches of standing water that had already gathered in his neighbors' yards as a harbinger of what the neighborhood could be expecting.

"The ground, as you can see, is very saturated," Linzey said. "There's nowhere else for the water to go."

As of 1:20 p.m., Baltimore County Police and Fire Spokeswoman Elise Armacost said no significant incidents have been reported, though some roads have begun flooding and a handful of trees have fallen so far.

Armacost said the county expects the most significant damage to begin later this afternoon, and continue through early Tuesday morning.

Baltimore County Public Schools announced that all schools and school offices would be closed for a second day Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Gas and Electric was reporting that as of 1:41 p.m. on Monday, Baltimore County had 5,489 customers without power — though 2,176 earlier outages had already been fixed.

BGE was reminding residents that to report power outages and downed wires through 1-877-778-2222. Customers are urged stay away from downed power lines and never to assume they are de-energized, even if the power to the area appears to be out.

Earlier Monday, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz declared a state of emergency, and said he was in regular contact with Gov. Martin O'Malley and emergency responders.

The county has opened a "pet friendly" shelter at Eastern Technical High School, 1100 Mace Ave., Essex, and the state was also operating two shelters on the west side of the county — at the Retriever Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Road, Catonsville; and at the Jewish Community Center, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills.

In addition, the county Animal Control operation is open for emergencies only.

All Baltimore County senior centers are closed until further notice; and CountyRide is also suspended until further notice.

Kamenetz also announced that trash and recycling pick-ups are suspended effective 2 p.m. today through Tuesday. County drop-off facilities will also be closed at 2 p.m. through Tuesday. The county will reevaluate trash collection schedules on Tuesday afternoon.

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