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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: stormfighter

by Steve Walsh, Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works 

We’ve been lucky so far, with several minor hurricane seasons in a row and a mild winter in 2017. But we can’t depend on luck. The Baltimore County Department of Public Works is prepared for whatever nature throws at us.

According to NOAA, the Atlantic hurricane season has begun and we can expect, on average, three major hurricanes to hit our coast and 12 tropical storms.

If they reach Baltimore County, we know what to do.

Our first order of business is to keep the roads open – to clear debris and trees. Public Works crews fix roads and bridges, clear storm drains, and make sure that the roads are safe. We have a fleet of trucks that can manage community clean-up after a significant storm and our Solid Waste Management command staff is certified in debris management.

We don’t limit ourselves to storm clean up. We try to stay ahead of the game. We have installed backup generators or alternate electrical feeds to all of our major pumping stations. Many now have water-tight doors and some have even been elevated above the flood plain level. 

We have roll-offs and dumpsters in reserve if storm debris mounts, and our debris management team will designate refuse collection centers if necessary.

The County’s traffic signals are being equipped with battery backups – 70 percent of the traffic signals already can function when the power is down. This is crucial for keeping traffic flowing after the storm is over and everyone gets back to business.

We’re learning every year to be better, more efficient and anticipate the consequences of a major storm. In the event of a hurricane, residents can report problems to our new Stormfighter online reporting tool. 

We’re Prepared – How About You?

We encourage people to have a personal emergency plan and to prepare to get through three days without power. Stock up on water, non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries and back-up sources for electronic devices like cell phones. Prepare in advance for medical and prescription needs and for pet care. Before a storm is forecast, we strongly advise that you check to see if you need flood insurance. More information about storm preparedness can be found on the County website at baltimorecountymd.gov/emergency.

If we do face a serious storm, you can go to the County’s Emergency Management Twitter feed, @BACOemergency, for updates on storm response, sheltering operations, and more.


Stormfighter web feature enables residents to report issues directly to emergency managers

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 reminds residents that during very heavy snowfall, crews must concentrate on keeping main roads cleared and may require 48 hours, or more, after the snow has stopped to clear neighborhood and feeder roads.

Stormfighter web feature

The County’s new Stormfighter interactive web feature provides residents with a direct line to communicate storm-related concerns to the County’s emergency managers, rather than phoning the Department of Public Works (DPW). The Stormfighter reporting form available to the public is the same form as County call-takers use to input callers’ concerns. The system integrates with GIS mapping applications and provides real-time visual map-based data to assist DPW and emergency managers in responding to severe storms or other localized or regional emergencies.

The County website offers the latest on road conditions, current plowing operations, winter storm tips and more at baltimorecountymd.gov/stormfighter, which includes Twitter updates from Baltimore County Emergency Management. These updates are also available on Twitter by using our Twitter handle, @BACOemergency.

County officials remind residents that in cases of true medical or other emergencies, they should always call 911. During major storm emergencies, first responders coordinate with DPW and other resources to continue responding to fires, urgent medical needs and other emergency situations. 

Live Traffic Camera Feeds and Road Closures Now Included

The County Stormfighter web feature includes recent upgrades to assist travelers. The page now 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 those roads, please see the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.state.md.us/incidents/index.php.  


Web feature enables residents to report issues directly to emergency managers

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that County residents will have a direct line to communicate storm-related concerns to the County’s emergency managers beginning this winter season. He made the announcement during the County’s annual winter storm exercise in the Emergency Operations Center, where representatives from County agencies and regional partners work together to coordinate the County’s response to a hypothetical severe winter storm.  

After last January’s record-breaking snowfall and extremely high call volumes that frustrated residents, County Executive Kamenetz directed County agencies to re-examine their constituent communication mechanisms for severe storm situations. At this morning’s press briefing, he announced Stormfighter, a new interactive web-based storm reporting feature on the County website that allows residents to self-report storm-related issues, rather than phoning the Department of Public Works (DPW). This system integrates with GIS mapping applications and provides real-time visual map-based data to assist DPW and emergency managers in responding to severe storms or other localized or regional emergencies. 

“We know how frustrating it is to be unable to get through on the phone, so our award-winning Office of Information Technology has created a new web feature that is very user-friendly and is the best way to communicate with us in case of a major storm,” said Kamenetz. “When we experience very heavy snowfalls, it is important that we communicate realistic expectations to our residents that it can take many days until crews can move from the main roads and get into the neighborhood streets.”

In addition, Kamenetz announced that the County has upgraded DPW’s phone system to greatly expand the number of callers held in the queue and to enable quick mobilization of call-takers to respond to any need with little advance notice. The phone system includes a function that will advise callers of their estimated wait time to speak with someone and will invite them to submit their concerns on the website instead of waiting on hold. Kamenetz explained that the new web-based reporting form available to the public is the same form as County call-takers will use to input callers’ concerns.

County officials remind residents that in cases of true medical or other emergencies, they should always call 911. During major storm emergencies, first responders coordinate with DPW and other resources to continue responding to fires, urgent medical needs and other emergency situations. 

Real-time updates available on the County’s website and social media platforms

Kamenetz also encouraged people to go to Twitter or the County website for Stormfighter updates. The County website offers the latest on road conditions, current plowing operations, winter storm tips and more at baltimorecountymd.gov/storm, which also includes Twitter updates from Baltimore County Emergency Management. These updates are also available on Twitter by using the Twitter handle, @bacoemergency.

The County Stormfighter web page now 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 people are advised to check back often for the latest status. State roads and interstates are not included. Information on those roads can be found on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.md.gov/TravInfo/Default.aspx.

“The really big snowstorms can try all of our patience, and I am pleased that the County is taking these positive steps to better facilitate communication with our constituents during storm emergencies,” said County Council Chair Vicki Almond.


 
 
Revised September 26, 2016