Annapolis, Anne Arundel County making plans for Hurricane Florence

Annapolis officials will hand out sandbags and open the city’s emergency operations center on Wednesday in preparation for Hurricane Florence, city spokeswoman Susan O’Brien said Monday.

It’s not yet clear how hard the hurricane will hit Maryland, but it is rapidly strengthening, with sustained 130 mph winds prompting evacuation orders on the North Carolina coast. Tracking models predict Florence could hit landfall Thursday.

Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Monday to allow the state to activate the National Guard, access emergency funds and take other measures.

“We are preparing for any possible outcome, including the potential for historic and catastrophic rainfall, life-threatening flooding, and high winds," Hogan said in a statement. "Our state is taking every precaution, and I urge Marylanders to do the same. Stay tuned to your local news stations for the latest updates, listen to state and local authorities, and most importantly, use common sense."

Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Aftung will hold a question-and-answer session on Facebook Live Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Residents can ask questions as Aftung provides the latest weather updates and information to be prepared.

They can reach the Anne Arundel County facebook page here. They can also find the county’s Citizens’ Guide to Emergencies here.

Annapolis residents and business owners may pick up as many as 10 sandbags, each weighing 20-25 pounds, at Truxtun Park Pool (299 Pump House Road) beginning at 6 a.m. Wednesday, O’Brien said.

“It’s fill-your-own-sandbag,” she said. “It’s the most economical way to do it.”

Crews will be on hand with shovels to assist residents, she said.

The city has also added links on its website for preparation tips, hurricane boater safety and the Prepare Me Annapolis mobile app, which sends alerts of severe weather, power outages and other essential information.

Residents should stock up on food, water and medications, O’Brien said. Annapolis and Anne Arundel County officials plan to open emergency shelters at Annapolis High School 2700 Riva Road), and Pip Moyer Rec Center (273 Hilltop Lane), if necessary.

“The most important thing is for people to prepare their own properties,” O’Brien said.

Earlier Monday, three downtown streets in Annapolis were closed because of tidal flooding, and traffic was diverted around the high water areas, Annapolis police said.

Dock and Compromise streets were closed by 5:30 a.m. Compromise was closed between Memorial Circle and St. Mary’s Street, though Annapolis police announced at about 9:20 that one lane of Compromise had reopened.

Both lanes of Compromise Street were reopened by early Monday afternoon, though parts of Dock Street were still blocked off.

Shortly after Dock and Compromise streets were shut down, Newman Street was closed at Duke of Gloucester Street because of high water at Newman and Compromise streets, according to police.

Tuesday and Wednesday look a lot alike with a slight chance of showers early and thunderstorms possible in both afternoons. Highs are expected between 80 and 85 degrees. The chance of rain is about 20 percent Tuesday and a bit higher Wednesday.

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