Quite a few shops and residences along Broadway and Thames, where flood risk is high, had already stacked dozens of them at their thresholds.
At The Daily Grind coffee shop, patrons sat outside, sipping coffee. But in the spot where passersby with dogs can usually buy coffee without entering the restaurant with their animals, the "doggy window" was closed, with an apology taped to it. "Word is," it said, "a hurricane is comin'."
Maryland State Fair reiterated Saturday morning that the fair and thoroughbred horse racing will be open, but officials are monitoring conditions. The 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale has been postponed, however.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared a state of emergency Friday and said Baltimore's emergency services are ready for the storm. She urged residents to be sure they're ready, too.
She suggested they gather up canned food, a can opener, bottled water for at least two days, batteries and a radio "to make sure you can stay safe and informed in case of a loss of power."
"Stay tuned to local TV and radio stations and listen for instructions from city officials," she said. "Make sure you have a personal family plan to shelter in place or to evacuate if told to do so."
Bob Maloney, director of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Preparedness, said the National Weather Service's storm surge models forecast no disastrous storm surge for Baltimore.
He acknowledged that forecasters missed the 8- to 9-foot surge that inundated the Inner Harbor and Fells Point during Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003. But he said the weather service has improved its storm surge models since then. "What we're doing is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best," he said.
All weekend events in Anne Arundel and Baltimore County schools have been canceled. School districts had not decided whether school will be held Monday — the first day of classes for students in Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties.
In Annapolis, Mayor Joshua J. Cohen declared a state of emergency and urged all residents in low-lying areas to evacuate their communities by Saturday afternoon. Annapolis High School is being opened as a pet-friendly shelter at 4 p.m. Saturday for those who cannot find shelter with friends or relatives.
Residents of Anne Arundel County's flood-prone areas were being warned to take precautions. South County, which has long-established picturesque communities along rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, is especially vulnerable
"If they were flooded in Isabel — heads up — you probably will be likely to flood again," said Tracie Reynolds, an Anne Arundel County spokeswoman.
Mayors of both Annapolis and Baltimore said they will open city parking garages for residents who need to move their cars to higher ground. Parking will be free for those residents.
Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, residents may park in the Caroline Street Garage, 805 S. Caroline St.; Fleet and Eden Street Garage, 501 Eden St.; and Edison Parking Lots at Fallsway and High streets. Residents in flood-prone areas in South Baltimore, Cherry Hill and Westport may move their vehicles to stadium Lot O. Vehicles must be moved out by 7 a.m. Monday.
Ocean City officials said public transit was shut down at 5 p.m. Friday, and the town's wastewater treatment plant was taken off line at 6 p.m. It should be running again late Sunday, depending on the storm's impact.
Amtrak is canceling many East Coast trains, with service reductions beginning Saturday and no trains operating in the Northeast on Sunday. Call 800-USA-RAIL or go to amtrak.com for updated information.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport expects major disruptions over the weekend. Spokesman Jonathan Dean said preparations have been made to keep the airport open. Generators are fueled, emergency vehicles are ready and the airfield has been inspected and the drainage system cleared of debris.
The commercial airlines that serve BWI are expected to cancel the majority of their flight operations starting late morning or early afternoon Saturday, Dean said. The airlines will likely resume normal operations Sunday afternoon, depending on conditions. Southwest said the airline will temporarily suspend afternoon and evening service to and from BWI Saturday.
At local hospitals, plans are in place to ensure that a ready staff is on hand. They have been stockpiling supplies for patients and staff.
At Johns Hopkins, generators are fueled and ready in case of power outages, and early deliveries of food, water, medicines and other supplies are expected, said spokeswoman Ellen Beth Levitt. Additional staff is scheduled in adult and pediatric emergency departments and in the facilities department. Accommodations are being made for them if they come early or stay after their shifts.
Irene weaker but still dangerous
Coastal areas evacuated; waterfront stores, homes pile sandbags; universities delay move-in
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