Hurricane Ziggy wasn't really making landfall on the East Coast on Wednesday, but Baltimore County government officials acted as if it was, responding to mock requests for help related to flooding and power outages.
During a training exercise at the county's Emergency Operations Center in Towson, representatives from government agencies were put to the test on the problems caused by a major hurricane.
It's been a dozen years since 2003's Tropical Storm Isabel hit hard in Maryland, but the 2015 hurricane season has begun and Baltimore County officials want residents to be ready. At Wednesday's drill, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz urged residents to have flashlights and batteries on hand, as well as enough food, water and medicine to last three days without power in the event of an emergency.
"Those were the scenarios we did face under Hurricane Isabel county-wide with the loss of electricity," Kamenetz said.
This year's hurricane season, which began Monday and runs through November, is predicted to have below-normal storm activity, according to the federal Climate Prediction Center. Forecasts call for six to 11 named storms, with half of them becoming hurricanes.
"That doesn't mean we can put our feet up and take the summer off," said Assistant Fire Chief Mark Hubbard, who is director of emergency management for the county.
In addition to having three days of supplies, residents should be tuned into social media, sign up for emergency alerts and use weather applications and websites when storms are looming. With advances in technology, it's possible for people to be better informed -- but only if they're paying attention, Hubbard said.
"Public apathy is our biggest challenge," he said.
Baltimore-area residents can get information about emergency preparation at readysetgood.com