Baltimore County News
Battalion Chief David Bycoffe
Office of Emergency Management
While Tropical Storm Hermine hasn’t quite confirmed her East Coast reservations yet, current forecasts as of midday Friday look like she’ll give the Baltimore region a pass. Even so, it’s still a timely reminder for all of us to make sure we have a plan in place to keep our families safe for any emergency that could come up.
The Baltimore County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is closely watching the radar and continuing to prepare for the final months of hurricane season. One of the most important things to do when hurricane weather is threatening is to stay informed. We have several ways to provide you with up-to-the minute information. You can follow us on Twitter @BACOemergency or like our official Police and Fire Facebook page. Residents are also encouraged to visit our web site regularly at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/emergency_prep/index.html for updated information as well as tips and information on preparation. Shelter information, evacuation orders and recovery resources will be publicized through these platforms.
No Twitter account or login is required to view @BACOemergency updates – just visit https://twitter.com/BACOemergency. As with many organizational social media accounts, the County’s emergency managers provide outgoing messages but are not in a position to respond to followers.
A hurricane is a significant storm that typically develops in the Caribbean and moves west, often landing in the Gulf of Mexico or the eastern coast of the United States. Meteorologists separate Hurricanes from other tropical storms by wind speed, damage potential, and other technical measurements. Hurricane season runs from May through November each year, and 2016 has already seen several named storms.
Ready? Set? Good!
There are a number of important measures you can take to prepare for a hurricane, and the best time to do it is when the skies are still clear. Families should prepare a disaster supply kit that includes a flashlight, batteries, cash and copies of critical information, such as insurance information. In addition residents are encouraged to have a supplemental power source for charging communication devices. Those living in homes with well water should have several gallon jugs of water on hand. More information on storm readiness can be found on the County website at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/emergency_prep/index.html.
County residents are also encouraged to have a family disaster plan. This plan should include a predetermined meeting area and shelter location in case family members are away from home when the weather turns ugly. Baltimore County has several sheltering locations available throughout the County that are opened as needed during disaster events.
In addition, a family communication plan should be prepared which includes a single contact person for all members to call if separated during emergencies. If possible, choose a contact from another region not likely to be impacted by the weather event.
All Hands on Deck
The Baltimore County Office of Emergency Management is constantly preparing to respond, should our community be hit with hurricane activity. OEM believes in a whole community response to disasters, which includes multiple agencies working together to serve all of our stakeholders. This includes not only the County Fire and Police departments, but the departments of Health, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Health and Human Services, the school system and others. We also coordinate with state and federal resources and our regional partners like BGE, the Red Cross and more. These agencies are ready to provide preparedness, response and recovery assistance to all of our citizens, visitors and business owners. This plan ensures a quick and effective response to the needs of all those we serve.
The Mid-Atlantic region is no stranger to hurricane activity. Taking the time to be prepared and informed will have a great impact on response and recovery whenever the next storm makes landfall in Baltimore County.
— January Blizzard Most Costly in County History
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that in the wake of the heaviest – and most costly – single snowstorm in the County’s history, crews and equipment are ready to tackle tonight’s forecasted snow, and salt supplies are replenished with final deliveries taking place today. The Kamenetz administration increased salt storage capacity by 20,000 tons this year, bringing the total to 80,000 tons of salt stored in 15 salt barns around the County.
The Baltimore County Bureau of Highways crews and contractors will be working around the clock tonight, and for as long as is needed to clear roads for safe travel.
Winter Storm Jonas Was the Costliest Single Snowstorm in County’s History
January’s blizzard brought not just the highest snow accumulations on record, it also topped the charts in terms of the cost of snow removal for a single storm in Baltimore County history. The County has tallied the total storm expenses at $9.4 million dollars. This eclipses the 2010 twin snowstorms, which cost $4 million and $7 million individually.
It costs approximately $54,000 per hour to plow snow from Baltimore County’s 8,742 County-maintained roads and approximately $109,000 per hour to spread salt.
This storm has exceeded the $6 million “placeholder” figure the County listed in the Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget for storm operations. The County routinely transfers funds into this budget line item from undesignated surplus when needed to cover additional costs for snow removal.
“It is important to keep in mind that this $6 million figure is simply a starting point,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We will allocate whatever is needed to ensure public safety for the remainder of the winter. Whatever Mother Nature throws at us, we will handle.”
County Reviewing Communications Protocols for Major Storms
While feedback from County residents has been overwhelmingly positive regarding the job that Baltimore County crews did in removing this historic snowfall, one concern that did arise was the need to increase capacity for customer service calls during storm emergencies. Kamenetz said he has tasked his key staffers with recommending technical and other improvements to enhance the County’s customer service in times of emergency. He hopes to have those recommendations within the next month.
County Provides Storm Updates on Website and Social Media
Residents and the travelling public can get updated information about Baltimore County’s snow removal operations and road conditions on the County website and on Twitter.
The County website provides the latest on road conditions, current plowing operations, winter storm tips and more at the Snowfighter web page at baltimorecountymd.gov/snowfighter, which also includes Twitter updates from Baltimore County Emergency Management. These updates are also available on Twitter by using our Twitter handle, @bacoemergency.
The County Snowfighter web feature provides a link to live traffic camera feeds from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART). It also offers a link to the County’s list of road closures, which provides details on roads that are currently closed due to repairs, accidents, weather or other hazards. This list is updated frequently, so we recommend that people check back often for the latest status. State roads and interstates are not included. For information on state roads, please see the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.md.gov/TravInfo/Default.aspx.
TV Show Highlights Black History Month, Snow Removal and Heart Healthy Tips
The February edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” highlights the following topics:
Winter Storm Operations – Get the perspective from behind the plow from two of Baltimore County’s Snowfighters.
Black History Month Museum Tour – Join us for a video tour of the Diggs-Johnson Museum and learn about their educational programs.
Heart Healthy Tips – Baltimore County’s top doc, Director of Health and Human Services, Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., offers sound advice on preventing and treating heart disease.
To view streaming video of the show, go to the Hello Baltimore County page at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/videogallery/hello%20baltimore%20county.
In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25, in Baltimore County, at the following times:
Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m.
Tuesdays: 12 p.m., 9 p.m.
Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.
Thursdays: 1 p.m., 8 p.m.
Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Revised September 26, 2016