Speaking from the city's Emergency Operations Center, which went into operation at 7 a.m. Sunday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged residents to get ready now for Hurricane Sandy. The monster storm is expected to barrel into Maryland early Monday morning, with gale force winds arriving later Sunday.
"Prepare your property. Clear all storm drains. Check on your elderly relatives and neighbors and make sure that they are prepared," Rawlings-Blake said. "This is absolutely important."
She also said now is the time to get prescription drugs and make sure that the elderly do the same — and, if need be, go to the pharmacy for them.
"If you know someone, go to the drugstore for them before the storm hits," she said.
Due to the enormous size of the storm, Rawlings-Blake said area residents should expect power outages, downed wires and trees, blocked roadways and flooding.
"Please do not drive through standing water no matter how shallow it looks," she said.
Rawlings-Blake urged residents to prepare meals that did not require opening and closing refrigerators and freezers.
If the power goes out and refrigerators and freezers are not opened, food inside can last for up to 36 hours, she said.
All police and fire stations were fully staffed, and both 911 and 311 are fully operational, the mayor said.
She asked that residents call 911 only in the event of an emergency.
"Now is the time to get prepared," said Rawlings-Blake, who advised residents to stay near a radio or television.
She added that storm updates would be made available throughout the day from the Emergency Operations Center.