Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsMarylandHarford CountyBel Air

Sandy's wrath wasn't as bad as Irene for Harford County

Hurricane Sandy (2012)Aberdeen Proving Ground

Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged parts of the northeast a year ago this week, did not have as dramatic an impact in Harford County as it did elsewhere, like the beaches of New Jersey, which are still recovering.

While Harford wasn't hit as hard as other places, it was also prepared, which helped minimize some of the damage, officials said, recalling preparations for the storm.

For Harford farmers, Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 was much more devastating than Sandy, president of the Harford County Farm Bureau Jay Rickey said.

"Things did not impact us nearly as bad as Irene," Rickey said. "Irene interrupted the state fair, closed roads and down trees. Sandy was mostly just power outages."

Rickey said the timing of the two storms played a difference in their impact on Harford's farm community.

"Irene occurred in September, which is when we're still in the harvesting season," Rickey said. "Sandy happened at the [end of October, beginning of November] when most people had already completed the bulk of their harvesting."

Rickey said many farmers tried to take precautions before Sandy hit and pushed up the harvest of their soybeans. Many of the beans, however, were not ripe enough to pick.

During Sandy, power outages and downed trees also affected dairy farmers who ship products daily from their farms, Rickey said.

"Some of the dairy farmers were trying to stay up and makes sure their power and everything stayed on to keep the dairy cold," Rickey said.

Bob Thomas, who was a spokesperson for Harford County government during Sandy, said the storm did not cause any significant structural damage in the county, though localized flooding and power outages disrupted residents and business owners for three to seven days.

"The county fared very well," Thomas, who has since become spokesman for the new county Department of Emergency Services, said. "The public was prepared and we had no fatalities as result of Sandy, but I don't have a record of injuries."

In preparation for Sandy, the Harford County Division of Emergency Services urged residents to buy flashlights and fresh batteries, have a least three days supply of fresh water and canned food and a portable battery operated radio.

"Hurricane Sandy is a severe storm with potential for a significant impact to Harford County as well as the entire State of Maryland," Harford County Executive David R. Craig said in a statement days before the storm hit the county. "We urge citizens to immediately begin to take all necessary preparations..."

During the height of the storm, the Harford County's Sheriff's Office implemented two 12-hour shifts, which added an additional 12 to 15 officers per shift, Edward Hopkins, spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said.

For about two and a half days, officers tended to areas without power, manned traffic intersections and answered calls for service, Hopkins said.

"The 12 hour shifts helped to enhance manpower and make the event more manageable," Hopkins said.

During the storm, police from the local, county and state agencies had a representative at the emergency operations center. Hopkins said this helped to cut down on bureaucracy and allowed the departments to better assist each other during the storm.

"The county and sheriff's office train together regularly," Hopkins said. "By understanding how we work together we can better streamline events like Sandy."

Hopkins said because of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the county's close proximity to the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, the police departments train regularly to be "prepared for a lot of things that could happen in our county."

Sandy cost Harford County $1.5 million in expenses including beefing up law enforcement departments, fire services and cleanup. Thomas said the county is eligible to receive reimbursement from the federal government for 75 percent of the expenses totaling $1.2million.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
Hurricane Sandy (2012)Aberdeen Proving Ground
Comments
Loading