The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management oversees disaster response.

Baltimore County Emergency Management officials are preparing for Hurricane Florence to bring heavy rains and serious inland and/or coastal flooding to our area.

The potential for flooding and for trees to topple and bring down power lines is greater because soils are saturated already from months of above-average rainfall. Residents should prepare now to get along for seven days without power, said BCoFD Division Chief Jay Ringgold, who oversees the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"This is a serious, potentially catastrophic storm," Ringgold said. "Don't wait until the last minute to buy supplies and think about how you will get along if the worst happens and power goes out for an extended period. Take steps today to prepare."

NWS Forecast Update

Local emergency management officials participated this morning in the National Weather Service's telephone update on the Florence forecast. Here is the latest:

  • Forecasters are increasingly confident that Florence -- now a Category 4 storm -- will make landfall in the Carolinas, probably late Thursday. The storm is expected to be at least a Category 3 at landfall, with significant storm surge.
  • Forecasters are less certain where the storm will track and how fast it will move once it moves inland. Right now, most expect our area to feel the first effects of the storm late Thursday. The NWS believes the storm will stall, dumping heavy rains. The storm's wind speeds, once it moves inland, are difficult to predict; the amount of wind depends on where and how quickly (or slowly) it moves.
  • Because the storm is expected to stall and produce heavy rains, inland and coastal flooding are major threats throughout the south and the mid-Atlantic. In some areas, flooding could be historic and catastrophic.
  • The emergency from Florence is exacerbated because the ground is already so saturated. Trees are expected to fall, especially in areas that experience heavy wind, causing power outages and posing at threat to life and property.

Baltimore County emergency managers will continue to receive regular updates throughout this weather event. Follow this blog and our social media accounts -- @BaltCoemergency on Twitter and @BaltCoFire on Facebook --  for updated  information.

What You Need to Do

Every household should prepare for this weather emergency as soon as possible.

"The exact track of a hurricane is difficult to predict the exact track of a hurricane, and we could very well find ourselves affected by dangerous flooding and strong winds later this week," said County Executive Don Mohler. "It is imperative for each of us to think ahead and prepare to provide for the needs of our loved ones, especially the elderly, children and pets.”

Think about how you will manage if the power goes out for an extended period. Steps to take now:

  • Locate and purchase supplies. You need non-perishable food, a manual can opener, medications, supplies for infants and vulnerable adults, pet supplies, flashlights/batteries and a battery-powered radio.
  • Buy or store extra water -- at least a gallon per person, per day, plus extra for pets.
  • Fully charge all your electric devices. If power goes out, use them sparingly to make them last as long as possible.
  • Get cash. ATMs will not work during a power outage, so visit one now.
  • Secure boats and outdoor furniture.
  • Plan where you will evacuate if you live in a flood-prone area and need to move to higher ground.
  • Assist vulnerable family, neighbors with storm preparations. This is critical; many vulnerable people, including older people cannot prepare by themselves.
  • Stay informed about the track of this storm. Follow weather forecasts and our social media posts, @BaltCoEmergency on Twitter and @BaltCoFire on Facebook.

BCoFD's Preparations

BCoFD and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have been monitoring this storm for days and preparing for a "worst-case scenario" response. These preparations include:

  • Inspecting swiftwater and high-water rescue equipment; pumps and other apparatus.
  • Reviewing staffing and operational plans.
  • Preparing  to open and staff the Emergency Operations Center, in case this becomes an emergency requiring a coordinated, multi-agency response.
  • Contacting our mutual aid partners in case we need additional resources.
  • Regular updates with National Weather Service regarding the forecast.