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Masks and flashlights at the ready: Carroll County braces for Tropical Storm Isaias during pandemic

Flashlights, radios, and now, masks and hand sanitizer, are some of the essential items Carroll County residents should have prepared as they brace for Tropical Storm Isaias.

Juggling two emergencies at once — the pandemic and a tropical storm — Carroll County Emergency Management Manager Valerie Hawkins cautions residents to play it safe in the coming days.

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The tropical storm is expected to flood low-lying areas, down trees and cause power outages across the region when it reaches Maryland on its way up the East Coast on Monday night, The Baltimore Sun reported. About 3-6 inches of rain is expected to fall in the Interstate 95 corridor from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for portions of Maryland, including Carroll County, from 11 p.m. Monday through Tuesday evening. Hawkins anticipates Carroll County will experience heavy rain and gusty winds.

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She recommends people check that their emergency supply kits are up-to-date and include two face coverings per person, in addition to hygiene items such as hand sanitizer. Residents should also prepare for power outages by keeping electronic devices charged, having battery-operated options available, and securing extra batteries. A backup power source should be prepared for anyone who relies on medical equipment that requires electricity. Lightweight objects that may become projectiles during high winds should be secured.

“Our office is working with our response agency partners to refine and adapt existing emergency procedures so that they are coordinated with the measures in place to respond to COVID-19,” Hawkins wrote in an email Monday afternoon. “While adding in the response to the tropical storm adds an extra layer of complexity to an already complicated situation, we are making the most of the existing and ongoing coordination between all affected agencies.”

As a result of the storm, the Carroll County Health Department announced Monday night that its COVID-19 testing site would be closed Tuesday.

Gov. Larry Hogan said a “government-wide response” has been initiated to help prepare for the storm. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency has activated to an “enhanced” level to allow for increased coordination between agencies and the weather service and the Maryland State Police are on standby to respond, if necessary.

A pair of surfers paddle out as incoming waves break at the end of the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier on Monday morning, Aug. 3, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla., in waves generated by Isaias. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP]
A pair of surfers paddle out as incoming waves break at the end of the Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier on Monday morning, Aug. 3, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla., in waves generated by Isaias. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP] (Bob Self/AP)

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration in a release Monday cautioned motorists against traveling during the storm. The release, forwarded by Carroll County Government, offered the following precautions:

  • Don’t drive through standing water. It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep a person off his/her feet, and 12 inches of moving water to move the average sedan. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
  • Keep a close eye on local information sources for the latest weather conditions and plan accordingly.
  • Delay trips during severe weather.
  • Use low-beam headlights when windshield wipers are activated.
  • Don’t try to move fallen tree branches as high-voltage wires may be intertwined.
  • If power is out at a traffic signal, state law requires all drivers at the intersection to treat it as a four-way stop.
  • Motorists are urged to monitor the forecast as threat levels can change throughout the day and visit md511.maryland.gov for real-time travel alerts and conditions.

Power outages and downed wires should be reported to power companies, Hawkins recommended. Baltimore Gas and Electric can be reached at 877-778-2222. Potomac Edison, a FirstEnergy Company, recommends people call (1-888-LIGHTSS) for hazardous situations. If a situation poses an immediate threat to life or safety, Hawkins said residents should call 911 right away.

Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell, Emily Opilo, Scott Dance and McKenna Oxenden contributed to this article.

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