Hurricane Florence prompts Carroll County to brace during preparedness month

As the possible oncoming of Hurricane Florence prompts county agencies to prepare, it is a reminder of the principles pushed during Preparedness Month, recognized in September.

The hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 storm Monday and was expected to make landfall by Friday. September and October mark the height of the mid-Atlantic hurricane season, according to a release from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

In the case of a hurricane, one of the most basic steps citizens can take is making a kit with a flashlight and portable radio, batteries and a three-day supply of water. A list of items to include in a more extensive kit are available at the MEMA website.

If individuals are prepared with these items to withstand the first 72 hours after a disaster, emergency resources can be directed to other areas of immediate need.

Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of Emergency Monday.

“At this time there’s still some uncertainty about the track of the storm and its potential impact,” Hogan said, according to Baltimore Sun reporting. “But we are preparing for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.”

Destructive natural events have hit Carroll in the past, including tornadoes that touched down in Gamber and Mount Airy in 2012.

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel brought severe winds that tangled with trees and wires to cause damage, including a tree that feel into the roof of a Westminster home.

An overarching concern throughout the mid-Atlantic this spring and summer has been flooding following heavy rainfall.

Damage hit Baltimore City and Howard County particularly hard. In Ellicott City, debates continue on how to rebuild the city and prevent future devastating flooding.

MEMA released a new map of flood zones this year to better communicate in the event that a hurricane would lead to evacuation.

Carroll does not fall within any of the zones, and is not expected to require evacuation as a result of a hurricane. MEMA still provides information on preparing for and recovering from potential hurricane damage on its website.

“The flooding in Ellicott City and other parts of Maryland earlier this year reminds us that emergencies can happen anytime and anywhere,” MEMA executive director Russell Strickland said in a prepared release. “It is imperative that we all have a plan in place and a disaster supply kit. Now is the time to make sure you are ready for emergencies.”

In Carroll, the county hosts an expo later this month that even children can participate in to teach citizens more about how to be prepared.

The 2018 Emergency Preparedness Expo will be held Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster. It’s hosted by the Carroll County Department of Public Safety, who will be joined by other local agencies involved in planning for Carroll’s safety in the event of a disaster.

They stress the need for individuals, not just agencies and organizations, to prepare for disasters.

One of the activities for children is a scavenger hunt where they can learn items that are useful in a family preparedness kit.

Other activities include a drunken driving simulator, raffles and giveaways, demonstrations by emergency response agencies and a chance to interact with equipment like a mobile command vehicle, fire truck and others.

More information is available at www.facebook.com/events/499173043839339/

At the expo, copies of the Carroll County “Are You Ready Guide” will be handed out. It is also available at ccgovernment.carr.org/ccg/emermang. Hazard information is also available through the Prepare Me Carroll App.

catalina.righter@carrollcountytimes.com

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