Skip Navigation

Baltimore County iWatch Logo

Public Safety News

 

Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: flooding

Five Baltimore County Fire Department members The Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teamremain in the Carolinas, assisting with rescue operations related to catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.

Pennsylvania Task Force #1

Two of those members -- Fire Lt. Michael Szczesniakowsi and Fire Lt. Brandon Watkins -- are deployed with the Pennsylvania Task Force 1 (PATF-1), a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team based in Philadelphia.  They were activated September 10 and now are working with the National Guard in Dillon, SC, assisting with water rescues and evacuations.

A third member of PATF-1 who deployed last week, Fire Capt. Kelvin Seigle, returned early due to a personal emergency.

Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team

Three BCoFD personnel who are members of the Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (MDHART) were deployed under mutual aid agreements and currently are positioned at a base of operations in Raleigh, NC. (The entire team is pictured above.) Our MDHART members have been engaged in missions all morning.

Fire Lt. David Gouak, EMT/FF Shane Sierakowski and EMT/FF Andrew Hays are specially trained rescue personnel who work with the Maryland Army National Guard and engage in helicopter-based rescue missions under difficult conditions. 

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.

The deadline is approaching for victims of the Memorial Day flooding to apply for relief for physical property damage.

 Applications for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration must be returned by September 24, 2018.

About SBA Assistance

The SBA made the loans available in response to a letter from Maryland Go. Larry Hogan requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA for portions of Maryland affected by the May 27 weather event.

The SBA's press release on these loans is available here.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million through the SBA to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered physical property damage.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.

Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.  Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.61 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Deadlines

The deadline to return applications for physical property damage is September 24, 2018.

The deadline to return economic injury applications is April 25, 2019.

How to Apply

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can be downloaded at sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

 
 
Revised June 27, 2017