Of­fi­cials: Pre­pare now for hur­ri­cane

Storm could bring high winds, heavy rain

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— The Ce­cil County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices and fore­cast­ers with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice are urg­ing county res­i­dents to make prepa­ra­tions now as Hur­ri­cane Matthew heads to the mid- At­lantic.

The large and pow­er­ful storm made land­fall on Haiti Tues­day morn­ing with winds near 150 mph and tor­ren­tial rain. By Tues­day evening, it was ex­pected to reach Cuba. Hur­ri­cane watches have been is­sued for Florida.

“Through Fri­day, the storm will still be to the south,” said Lance Franck, me­te­o­rol­o­gist at the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice of­fice in Mt. Holly, N. J. “If it hits, it will be Satur­day into Sun­day. The time to pre­pare is now.”

Richard Brooks, CCDES di­rec­tor, said res­i­dents need to mon­i­tor the weather and watch the skies.

“And sign up for Re­group Mass No­ti­fi­ca­tion,” he said of the county’s re­cently launched emer­gency an­nounce­ment sys­tem. “You’ll get timely in­for­ma­tion from DES as we put it out.”

ELKTON

Re­group is avail­able as an email, mes­sage or text to a phone, com­puter or tablet. Sign up on­line at cc­gov. org.

Brooks said res­i­dents need to take ad­van­tage of the ad­vance knowl­edge of the storm.

“We’re four to five days out so peo­ple need to look at what their fam­ily can do now to pre­pare,” he said.

Franck sug­gested peo­ple re­view or de­vise their fam­ily emer­gency plan and gather es­sen­tial sup­plies in­clud­ing ready- toeat foods, bot­tled water, flash­lights with ex­tra bat­ter­ies, a bat­tery- pow­ered ra­dio or tele­vi­sion, any med­i­cal, in­fant or pet sup­plies needed and fill ve­hi­cle gas tanks.

“You should also re­view your homeowner’s in­sur­ance pol­icy,” he sug­gested, es­pe­cially for those in flood- prone ar­eas.

Ce­cil County homes and busi­nesses us­ing nat­u­ral gas should keep an eye on their me­ters and make sure the me­ters are clear of de­bris af­ter the storm has passed. Duane Bourne, Elkton Gas spokesman, said that avoids dam­ag­ing the lines with heavy equip­ment dur­ing cleanup. Nat­u­ral gas- pow­ered ap­pli­ances can be left on dur­ing

the storm, Bourne said, be­cause most have au­to­matic shut­offs for safety.

Gas leaks should be re­ported im­me­di­ately.

Like­wise for cus­tomers of Del­marva Power, ac­cord­ing to spokesman Nicholas Morici.

“We’re not hop­ing for power out­ages,” he said Tues­day. “We’re do­ing ev­ery­thing we can do to pre­vent them.”

That in­cludes rou­tine tree trim­ming and re­moval, about 1,600 miles each year, he said. Since Hur­ri­cane Is­abel in 2003 when many in Ce­cil County were off the grid for a week or more, the util­ity com­pany has been work­ing to in­crease its re­li­a­bil­ity.

“We’re ready for Matthew,” Morici said, ad­ding that since 2010 there has been a 44 per­cent de­crease in the num­ber of out­ages within their sys­tem and that re­sponse time to out­ages has im­proved 17 per­cent.

He re­minded res­i­dents not to touch trees ly­ing on wires and as­sume any wire is elec­tri­fied.

With the merger of the util­ity with Ex­elon, Morici said that should there be a sig­nif­i­cant out­age, Del­marva has more help avail­able.

“We can go to PECO or Con- Ed or BGE for help. We can pull from their re­sources,” he said.

Franck said the track of Hur­ri­cane Matthew would de­ter­mine how much of it will de­scend on Ce­cil County.

“We ex­pect it to re­main a pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane at least to the mid­dle of the week,” he said Tues­day.

As of mid­day Tues­day, Matthew was still a Cat­e­gory 4 storm with sus­tained winds of 145 mph.

“If it tracks fur­ther east, there’s the po­ten­tial for heavy rain,” Franck said. “If it tracks west, that would be a di­rect im­pact with high winds and coastal flood­ing.”

He doesn’t ex­pect Hur­ri­cane Matthew to come up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

“His­tor­i­cally speak­ing, it’s un­likely,” he said.

MAP COUR­TESY OF NWS

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice’s storm tracker, as of mid­day Tues­day, places Hur­ri­cane Matthew along the At­lantic coast this week­end.

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