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Howard County officials watching Hurricane Florence's track

Despite uncertainty of the impact Hurricane Florence might have on Howard County, officials are preparing for the worst.

The county will monitor water levels in lakes and dams and consider an increase of police and fire staffing in potential high-risk areas, spokesman Mark S. Miller said. The county has yet to make official plans for shelter or evacuation because the path of the storm once it makes landfall is unknown.

Miller said residents should prepare for the storm by stocking up on bottled water and batteries for flashlights, ensure storm drains are free of debris and clean gutters and downspouts to prevent basement flooding.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City will make sand available for homeowners and shopkeepers to make their own sandbags after 4 p.m. today. Residents will need to bring shovels and bags.

The hurricane, which is likely to be a Category 3, with winds of nearly 130 mph when it makes landfall, is expected to hit the Carolinas late Thursday night before making its way inland.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival, allowing the state to muster personnel and equipment needed to deal with possible flooding and wind damage.

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