Annapolis officials scale back Hurricane Florence plans, still concerned about flooding

Chase Cook
Contact Reporterccook@capgaznews.com

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County officials have scaled back their emergency preparedness plans as Hurricane Florence changed paths and is slowly dragging across North Carolina.

But officials are still concerned about the impact of tidal flooding and forecasts that Florence could swing back toward Maryland, bringing with it wind and rain.

With the ground saturated, and City Dock already prone to flooding, emergency officials have been put on notice regarding potential flooding, said Deputy Fire Chief Kevin J. Simmons. Simmons is director of the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management.

Higher tidal waters could lead to flooding that is more burdensome and dangerous than traditional nuisance flooding downtown while wind could bring about power outages, Simmons said.

“The leaves are so heavy on the trees they act like sails,” Simmons said. “It doesn’t take much wind … trees could topple.”

Annapolis officials filled and distributed 56 tons of sand this week. Residents and businesses could take 10 sand bags, though some businesses could ask for more, Simmons said.

County officials have been monitoring the storm as well. Initially Florence was a destructive Category 4 hurricane that prompted Gov. Larry Hogan and other state governors to preemptively declare states of emergency. At least four people have been killed so far.

The county had planned one as well, but opted not to do so after Florence’s path changed, said Chrissy Cornwell, deputy director of Anne Arundel’s Office of Emergency Management.

For now, emergency management is monitoring the storm and keeping in contact with other county agencies. If anything changes, residents will be notified, Cornwell said.

As of Friday afternoon, forecasters said the effects could last for hours because Florence was barely moving. The National Weather Service measured 15.56 inches of rainfall in Morehead City since Florence made landfall.

The hurricane collided with North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore near Wrightsville Beach, the National Hurricane Center said.

Coastal streets flowed with ocean water and tens of thousands lost electricity. Forecasters said “catastrophic” freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

National Weather Service forecasters are calling for about an inch of rain in Annapolis through the weekend, but there could be some flooding similar to earlier in the week at high tide. High tide Friday night was 10:16 p.m. and Saturday morning it is at 9:58 a.m. Saturday night is at 11:12 p.m.

A coastal flood watch is in effect along the Maryland coast through Saturday night. That means conditions favorable for flooding are expected to develop, according to the weather service

Water is expected to pond in the parking lot at City Dock, possibly causing parking restrictions in the area. Friday night through Saturday, the boardwalk at Annapolis City Dock could see significant water.

Dock, Compromise and Newman streets, along with several streets on the Naval Academy campus, could have effects from high waters, the weather service said. Those streets flooded early this week at high tide. Traffic to and from Eastport was detoured at times and could be again this weekend.

Earlier this week, the Naval Academy, which sits on the Severn River, moved its sailboats to dry land and to hurricane moorings. The academy was prepared to take other precautions if the forecast for the region changed.

The threatening weather did force cancellation of several planned events in the city, including the 911 Heroes Run, Bike Day, the Boatyard Beach Bash and the Hospice Cup Regatta racing. The regatta party is still planned as scheduled.

Maryland Natural Resources Police instituted a small craft advisory at 12:55 p.m. Friday due to wind gusts

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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