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Bel Air, rest of Harford clean up from Sandy Wednesday

Local GovernmentHurricane Sandy (2012)Harford Community CollegeHalloween

Nearly 15 percent of homes and businesses in central and southern Harford County still did not have power early Wednesday morning, as residents dealt with the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy.

Serious traffic problems at the intersection of Fulford and South Main streets in Bel Air were still an issue as of late Wednesday afternoon, said Bel Air Town Administrator Chris Schlehr.

A telephone pole was also leaning over Hickory Avenue near the parking garage, causing the street to be blocked between Courtland Street and Pennsylvania Avenue since early Tuesday.

The leaning pole, which seemed to become a conversation piece around town Tuesday and Wednesday, was in the process of being removed early Wednesday evening by crews from BGE and Oklahoma Gas and Electric.

"There's still 15 percent [of residents] without power," Schlehr said. "Generally in the southern part of town."

While there was no "catastrophic damage" as a result of Sandy, Schlehr reported half a dozen major trees came down.

The town's public works crews will continue to work through the end of the week clearing debris, he said.

North of town, in the Marywood community off Rock Spring Road, homes were damaged by falling trees and limbs. Marywood has a number of mature trees along its streets and in many yards.

Building inspectors went around the county Tuesday to photograph and assess damage to homes and other buildings from downed trees and wind.

River flooding danger subsides

Any lingering flooding danger from the storm appeared to have passed, including along the lower Susquehanna River.

"Just notified by conference call that [Havre de Grace] will not have any flooding from the [Conowingo] dam," Susquehanna Hose Company Chief Scott Hurst said via text message shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Just one floodgate was open at Conowingo Dam at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Conowingo Spill Condition Hotline. Although the hotline said the dam is operating under "storm conditions," river flow through the dam was being measured at 125,000 cubic feet per second, a strong flow, but typically not enough to cause serious downstream flooding.

The hotline also said one to six gates would be open over the next eight hours, well below the 13 or 14 that would have to be open to flood Route 222 along the Cecil County shore of the river.

Port Deposit Mayor Wayne Tome Sr. said again Wednesday that the town on the Cecil Shore was not threatened. "Everything's fine," he said.

Schools, Harford government closed

Meanwhile, the remaining power outages around Harford County forced public schools and some local government-related activities in the county to remain closed for a third straight day Wednesday.

Many county roads also remained closed because of downed trees and power lines.

The county announced it would re-open Thursday, with liberal leave for employees. The state of emergency was also set to be lifted Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Harford County Public Schools, which was closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, planned make an announcement about Thursday classes sometime Wednesday evening, a spokesperson said.

"We appreciate the patience and understanding of our citizens and employees during the past few days while county government was closed as a result of Hurricane Sandy," Harford County Executive David Craig said in a press release.

"Our focus has been the restoration and recovery of Harford County following the impact Hurricane Sandy made on our community," he said.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the sun began to shine brightly in downtown Bel Air, at least for about 20 minutes before more clouds rolled across the sky over the county seat. The clouds and crisp temperatures remained most of the day.

Brighter, perhaps, was news from Harford County government that Halloween trick-or-treating "is still on as scheduled throughout the county," spokesman Bob Thomas said about 8:30 a.m..

Outage updates

Baltimore Gas and Electric's online outage map showed 9,375 of the company's 100,079 Harford customers did not have power as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Many of the outages were in the Bel Air area, with the greatest concentration of those being to the east of the town along Route 22 going toward Churchville, according to the BGE online outage map.

There was another large concentration of outages in the southeast corner of the county around Joppatowne.

BGE's outage map also showed the company has restored power to 56,736 of its Harford customers since Sandy hit the county Monday.

In the northern end of the county, Delmarva Power's online outage map showed just 498 of the company's 5,088 customers did not have power early Wednesday morning.

While progress was being made in restoring power, several major intersections, such as Routes 22 and 543 east of Bel Air, did not have functioning traffic signals late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning but were working by 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Many roads closed

Harford County government spokesman Thomas said 43 county roads were still closed as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, down from more than 50 Tuesday afternoon.

"Approximately 220 emergency calls for service were dispatched by [the Emergency Operations Center] during the period of the storm from Monday through yesterday [Tuesday] at noon," Thomas said.

County building inspections personnel toured the county on Tuesday checking for structural damages to homes commercial buildings that were struck by falling trees or other debris related to the storm, Thomas said.

At least three homes sustained what he said was "serious" damage from falling trees or tree limbs.

Portions of three state roads in Harford were also closed Wednesday morning, State Highway Administration spokesperson David Buck said.

Route 147 (Harford Road) from Route 152 in Fallston to Fork Road in Baltimore County was closed for tree down over live wires in the roadway, Buck said. He did not have an estimate when the road would reopen, noting the restoration is "BGE driven" because of the need to deactivate and the restore the wires.

Harford Road was reopened to traffic by Wednesday evening.

A similar situation, a tree down on live wires, had closed Route 24 (Rock Spring Road) closed around Cherry Hill Road between Forest Hill and Rocks State Park, Buck said. Again, he did not have an estimate when the road would reopen.

Buck said Route 7 in the Creswell area would be closed most of the day Wednesday between Route 136 and Baneberry Drive so crews can clean up accumulated debris in the roadway, which passes through a low lying area across James Run at that point.

Buck said the number of road closures statewide had declined from more than 100 Tuesday to around 20 overnight Tuesday, but he cautioned more closures could occur.

"The ground is really saturated from all the rain, so it won't take much wind to knock down more trees," he said.

Carbon monoxide dangers

In addition, Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company was warning people to beware of incorrectly placed generators, after the county's Fire & Ambulance Association reported on its Facebook Page early Wednesday that people were taken to an area hospital for possible carbon monoxide poisoning, stemming from a generator being operated improperly at a home in Joppa late Tuesday.

The county government said another person was treated at a medical facility for possible carbon monoxide poisoning at his place of employment.

Several people reported to the sheriff's office that neighbors in places like Shrewsbury Road in Abingdon and Columbine Court in Forest Hill were possibly using generators indoors, according to police calls for service logs.

The fire company was also cautioning residents to consider any downed wires to be live.

"Walk away and do not attempt to move them yourself in any way," a fire company spokesman tweeted early Wednesday morning.

Emergency calls

Sheriff's Office calls for service logs during the two days of the storm say people with oxygen tanks asked for help after they lost power, on Orchard Lakes Drive in Baldwin and on Pentwood Road in Bel Air.

Several reports were made to police of trees on houses. A tree was reported coming "through a roof into a dining room" on Chatham Place in Bel Air.

A possibly structurally compromised house was reported Monday after a tree fell on a house on Federal Lane in Abingdon.

Someone also reported a person trying to launch a kayak in Deer Creek near Conowingo Road in Street during the height of the storm.

Municipal governments reopen

The municipal governments of Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace reopened on time Wednesday.

All daytime classes at Harford Community College were canceled Wednesday. On its website, the college said it will be closed until at least 5 p.m. Wednesday, with a decision on evening classes (5 p.m. or later) to be made by noon Wednesday.

Aberdeen Proving Ground resumed operations Wednesday after two days of closures for all except emergency and essential personnel. The post is on a delayed, 9 a.m. opening Wednesday, with liberal leave in effect.

County library branches, except those in Bel Air, Fallston and Joppatowne where there were still power outages late Tuesday, were to resume operations at their normal times Wednesday, the library director said. Despite the earlier announcement, the Bel Air facility appeared to be open Wednesday evening.

Debris disposal

County government planned to open its waste disposal center on Scarboro Road in Street for commercial and residential customers from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Most private trash collection service was suspended across the county Monday and Tuesday because of the storm.

The county also said the Tollgate Yard Waste Drop-Off Facility at 703 N. Tollgate Road in Bel Air would be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for county residents to get rid of tree branches and other vegetative waste.

Temporary residential sites for tree and other vegetative waste will open Thursday at Chapel Road Park in Havre de Grace, 1702 Trimble Road across from the Kohl's warehouse in Edgewood and at Fox Meadows Recreation Complex at 3653 Fallston Road in Jarrettsville. Hours for all three from Thursday through Sunday will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Local GovernmentHurricane Sandy (2012)Harford Community CollegeHalloween
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