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Towson families begin preparation for Hurricane Sandy

Technology IndustryHurricanes and Tropical StormsDavid Marks

Baltimore County Police and Fire spokeswoman Elisa Armacost said Friday morning, Oct. 25, that the county is preparing for Hurricane Sandy to arrive in the area early next week, but a few lucky Towson residents were already stepping up their preparation well before Sandy’s landfall.

Laura Bonnichsen, 36, of Stoneleigh, picked up one of the last generators at Ayd Hardware Friday morning, hoping to prevent against another flood in her basement should her home lose power.

“We were out for seven days in July,” Bonnichsen said. In both July’s derecho storm and last summer’s visit from Hurricane Irene, Bonnichsen’s home lost power. Without the sump pump her basement, which she said sits on an underground stream, flooded each time.

“(July was) the second claim on the exact same thing in 10 months,” she said. “I just can’t do that anymore.”

She believes the generator will be able to run both her primary and backup sump pump, her two refrigerators and, with  luck, the television to keep her three children occupied.

Vincent Ayd said his store’s last generator was being picked up at noon Friday, but that they would service generators for customers who already owned them.

Across town in Southland Hills, Mary Kay Lepage was having a generator installed at her house by Winn Electric. Though she was initially concerned that the race against the clock might leave them without a generator this time, she was now confident the unit would be up and running by the time Sandy arrives.

“We’ve been without power a number of times, and we just decided we need to take it into our own hands and take care of ourselves,” Lepage said.

Lepage volunteers for an amateur weather network that tracks rainfall and other weather events for a national database run by the University of Colorado. She said early reports from the storm indicate that there’s a “90-percent chance it’s going to hit us,” though the severity is unknown until the storm tracks farther north.

Either way, Lepage’s family is prepared. She said she has “emergency everything,” from radios to a battery-operated television, and that the generator should keep what they need running for the duration of the storm.

Parts of Southland Hills lost power for a week in July, and Lepage said her house lost and regained power three separate times before turning on for good.

Upgrades under way

For some Towson residents, the instinctual planning against the worst-case scenario could change in the future.

BGE on Thursday announced a series of infrastructure improvements in the Towson area that will improve service to more than 1,300 residents.

In a statement, BGE Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Jeannette M. Mills said the improvements represent “BGE’s unwavering commitment to its customers and is one of many investments throughout BGE’s central Maryland service area intended to enhance reliability and customer service.”

Underground lines will be installed along portions of Stevenson Lane, Cedar Avenue, Newberry Lane, Knollwoood Road and Fairway Drive, and vegetation will be cut back around power lines in the Towson area.

That's good news, said County Councilman David Marks, but Sandy will get here first.

“BGE is making these $43 million worth of improvements, but they’re not in place yet,” said Marks, who represents the 5th District, including Towson. “People need to expect that there may be power outages again, but hopefully we’re not caught off guard like the derecho.”

Marks said his office sent an email to everyone in its database urging caution and preparation as the storm approaches.

“We’re just advising people to stock up on food and supplies, and take the precautions that we saw were necessary with the hurricane last year and other bad weather,” Marks said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Technology IndustryHurricanes and Tropical StormsDavid Marks
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