North Baltimore County fire crews, merchants prepare for Hurricane Sandy

North County emergency crews, officials and merchants were taking measures on Friday to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the area early next week.

Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Company members sharpened chain saw blades and bought new chains, and fueled up all vehicles so they're ready to go, said member Nick Gamble.

"We have confirmed crews for all our engines," he said. "We're ready."

Likewise, members of Hereford Volunteer Ambulance Association are on stand-by. Because the company is manned by volunteers, they can't be ordered to be at the station, said Gery Simms, association president. He said members have been asked to monitor the storm and to come to the station if conditions are threatening.

Hereford Volunteer Fire Company Chief Chuck Bollinger said his company has five small submersible pumps and several large gas-powered pumps to assist homeowners.

Last September, Hereford Fire came to the aid of homeowners on Falls Road in Monkton, which parallels Gunpowder Falls, after the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused massive flooding.

They helped pump water out of the basement of a house owned by Lee and P.J. Yost that sits 500 feet from the river.

"They were great, but we hope we don't need them again," said P.J. Yost. She said they had to replace their hot water heater and air conditioning after last year's storm.

She said the family moved what they could from their basement on Oct. 26, but had to leave the washer and dryer because they were too heavy to move.

Baltimore City's Department of Public Works has no current plans to increase the water being discharged from Prettyboy Reservoir in preparation for an influx of water from the hurricane.

"We have staff that will monitor water elevations and the dam conditions," said Kurt Kocher, DPW spokesman.

The manager at Graul's Market in Hereford, said the store was busy and getting busier.

"People have been buying lots of water and batteries," Ken Bullen said. "We have lots more water coming over the weekend, but we didn't have enough time to order more batteries."

Over at Freeland Wine & Spirits, owner Richard Fisher said every customer who comes in is talking about the storm.

"Most people are worrying about losing power," he said. "But one thing's for sure — they all know it's coming."

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