Laurel pools, cooling centers open for heat relief

Due to the forecast high temperatures and humidity, and to provide relief for those residents still without power, city officials will open pools early and maintain cooling centers at the Laurel Armory and Robert J. DiPietro Community Center.

The armory, located at 422 Montgomery St., and the Community Center, at 7901 Cypress St., will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.

The armory will continue to be open as a cooling center Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The armory offers two lounge areas, televisions, gaming systems and wireless Internet connection, and an opportunity to charge electronic devices. Only service animals are allowed in the cooling centers, not other pets.

In addition, the city's Greenview Drive Pool, at 14403 Greenview Drive in the Patuxent Greens neighborhood; and Municipal Pool at 901 Main St., will continue to open at 11 a.m., an hour earlier than normally scheduled, through the weekend.

On Friday, city officials said about 40 homes were still without power after last week's storm blew through Laurel, and that crews from Baltimore Gas and Electric were currently working to restore power. Residents can contact BGE at 1-877-778-2222 to make sure BGE is aware of any lingering power outages.

The city's Department of Information Technology created a map showing areas where power has been restored and where power is still out.

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe declared a state of emergency within the city limits Monday, July 2 after the city experienced serious damage and loss of electricity following Friday's storm, damage that was coupled with the health risk of the high temperatures in the last few days.

Most of the damage was caused by trees and limbs that fell and brought down power lines, city spokeswoman Carreen Koubek said.

Koubek said having the mayor declare a state of emergency is "a step in a chain. We declare, the state declares and if the president declares a state of emergency ... we could recoup some federal funds."

While there are no guarantees that Laurel could receive federal funds, Koubek said the city is following all the procedures and policies mandated by federal agencies in the event that disaster funds are made available

The city's Public Works crews continue to look for downed branches, trees and other debris. City residents can gather limbs and place them near the street for pickup by Public Works trucks. Limbs should be no longer than 6 feet and should be no larger than 3 inches in diameter.

Laurel residents that live in Prince George's County but outside the city can contact the Prince George's County Office of Emergency Management at 301-583-1950.

The National Weather Service has described the storm that initially formed west of Chicago and swept through the Laurel area Friday night as a derecho (a Spanish word for "straight ahead"), a term used for storms when a band of rain or thunderstorms and high winds causes destruction that follows a straight course, unlike a tornado.

Stay cool

Prince George's County officials released the following protective measures to follow during extreme heat, such as today's temperatures:

• Take precautionary measures and limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

• Stay indoors as much as possible.

• Watch for symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

• Do not leave children or pets in vehicles.

• Drink plenty of water. Do not drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar.

• Regularly check on infants, children and adults age 65 or older.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad