Trees and wires were down, portions of major roads were blocked, thousands of people still did not have power and four CSX rail cars were in the Susquehanna River Saturday after a major wind storm blew through Harford County the day before.
The storm first closed the Tydings Bridge carrying Interstate 95 over the Susquehanna River Friday morning and later closed the Hatem Bridge which carries Route 40. The closures caused a traffic nightmare, causing a virtual gridlock, with trips that motorists generally measure in minutes taking hours.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who declared a local state of emergency Friday night, and John Richter, a county emergency planner, toured damaged parts of the county Saturday morning.
“Although it’s not a blizzard or snowstorm, it is a considerable storm and required a lot of our responders to be out, and I think they’ve done a great job,” Glassman said told the Aegis reporter who was on the tour through Fallston, Bel Air, Darlington and Level.
Winds, with gusts that hit 57 mph, tore through Harford County Friday. The winds came courtesy of Winter Storm Riley, which battered much of Maryland and the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions.
The storm caused at least one death in the Baltimore area, a 77-year-old woman who was killed when a tree branch fell on her as she got the mail at her house in the Baltimore County portion of Kingsville. There were no reports of storm-related injuries or fatalities in Harford County, Glassman said.
Winds were still strong Saturday, and the county executive urged people to be careful when out and about, “particularly at night.”
“We still could have some trees come down on roadways,” he said.
Local firefighters and EMS workers were still handling storm-related calls as of noon, Rich Gardiner, a spokesperson for the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association, said via text message.
County highways crews worked through the night to clear roads, and Glassman greeted several workers while traveling through Fallston Saturday.
State-maintained highways, such as Route 155 and Route 22, were blocked in places because of trees that had fallen on wires. Workers were clearing a fallen tree along Route 22 near Prospect Mill Road, and the traffic signal further west at Route 22 and Brierhill Drive was out, meaning motorists had to treat the major intersection like a four-way stop.
Workers with the Maryland Department of Transportation-State Highway Administration blocked Route 155 at McCommons Road while waiting for crews to remove another tree from power lines.
Crews with BGE and Delmarva Power were working to restore power to their Harford County customers. About 29,000 BGE customers and about 500 Delmarva Power customers in northern Harford were out as of 10 a.m., Saturday Glassman reported.
Crews with CSX freight rail were also busy Saturday handling a train derailment that happened on the Susquehanna River trestle, south of the Route 40 Hatem Bridge, near Perryville.
The accident happened shortly after 8 p.m. Friday as six cars on a Richmond, Va.-bound train derailed on the trestle — four fell in the river.
“There were no reported injuries and no hazardous materials were involved,” according to an emailed statement from a CSX spokesperson. “CSX is working closely with federal, state and local public safety officials on scene to remove the rail cars from the river.”
Two cars had been removed by CSX crews as of Saturday morning, and they were working to get the others out of the water, according to the statement.
“The safety of the community and everyone on site is our top priority,” the statement concluded. “CSX appreciates the patience of our neighbors in Perryville as we work as quickly as possible to fully remove the rail cars from this area.”
The Maryland Transportation Authority closed the I-95 Tydings Bridge and the Hatem Bridge, as well as other toll bridges around the region, Friday because of high winds — a tree also fell on the Hatem Bridge.
The closures caused massive traffic snarls on both sides of the Susquehanna as drivers sought alternate routes to get across, such as the Conowingo Dam.
Glassman, who lives in Darlington, pointed out deep ruts along back roads in his community, such as Nobles Mill Road, where vehicles sat on the shoulders of one and two-lane roads.
He observed the tie ups Friday night, and he pointed out a farm field off of Trappe Church Road Saturday that had been like a “parking lot” the night before.
“It's gong to be pretty sizable damage for us to repair,” he said of the ruts.