A dawn broke Sunday in St. Mary’s County, anyone with a chain saw became the most popular person in the neighborhood. Hurricane Irene left in its wake many downed trees and power lines and a large population without power.
Although most waterfront areas, unlike Isabel, were spared major flooding, there were some notable exceptions, including the St. Mary’s River in Great Mills and Town Run in Leonardtown at Maryland Antiques Center and the Port of Leonardtown.
Although crews worked hard to at least open one lane for traffic, some roads, such as North Sangates Road and many others remained blocked at midday. Even the major roads, such as Routes 5, 235 and 245, had lanes blocked. At almost the exact spot of the recent glider accident on Route 235 in Hollywood, a power pole was severed, a tree down, the northbound right lane closed and no crews in sight.
By midday the St. Mary’s County Public Schools had announced they would be closed on Monday. SMECO was working hard to restore power. But some homes in more isolated areas could be in for a long wait. As of noon 23,655 homes in the county were without power, a significant improvement over the almost 40,000 six hours earlier. Forty-five SMECO crews and 40 contract crews have been deployed and help was on its way from crews from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
A group of officials toured Southern Maryland by helicopter this afternoon to assess the damage. They included Rep. Steny Hoyer, NAS Commanding Officer Capt. Stephen Schmeiser, St. Mary’s County Commissioner Francis “Jack” Russell and Commissioner Todd Morgan, Del. John Bohanan, Sheriff Tim Cameron and County Administrator John Savich.
Hoyer said they saw little waterfront damage in contrast to Tropical Storm Isabel. Everyone agreed the problem was downed power lines and trees. Hoyer said he lost 17 trees on his property.
Hoyer said it was too early to say about federal aid. Savich praised SMECO for its quick response.
Russell said the flooding in Great Mills was just a case of too much water, although Bohanan said St. Mary’s Lake did spill over a little.
Cameron said there was a department wide mobilization Saturday night and would be extended to Sunday night as well. He praised the public for staying home and riding out the storm. “They did a nice job.”
Not everyone stayed home. Savich said132 people used the shelter Saturday night at Leonardtown High School. The shelter will also be open Sunday night. Savich said regular ice would be made available sometime Monday.
The following are the most recent updates on the emergency from St. Mary’s County Government.
St. Mary’ County Government will be open Monday, August 29, with Liberal Leave policy in effect.
Hurricane Irene Recovery update, August 28, 2011, 12:00 p.m.
Citizens are strongly encouraged for their own safety to stay off of the roads. There are fallen trees and flooded roads that have created dangerous conditions.
Maryland State Police and State Highway Administration officials are reminding motorists that upon approaching an intersection with non-functioning traffic lights ALL drivers should stop at the intersection first and then proceed with caution. If lights are on flash, those facing yellow flashing lights can proceed with caution. Those facing red flashing lights must stop and then proceed with caution.
Downed power lines and power outages need to be reported to SMECO at 1-877-747-6326.
The State Highway Administration has reopened the Thomas Johnson Bridge and the Harry Nice Bridge.
Agencies continue to deploy tactical teams with a combination of SMECO, State Highway Administration, Dept of Public Works and Transportation, Sheriff’s Office, MD State Police, Volunteer Fire Departments and Rescue Squads, and contract support to systematically secure access to and from power restoration priorities, first responder running areas, local priority routes will soon be assessing the extent of private property assistance that may be needed.
STS Transportation, Convenience Centers and St. Andrews Landfill will be closed Sunday, August 28.
Water system in Hunting Quarter is back on line and water system in Breton Bay and may be operating at less than full capacity. All persons served by public water systems are encouraged to use only that quantity of water as is absolutely necessary until further notice. At this time, there is no need to boil any public water supplies prior to consumption.
Citizens using the METCOM Water System in Wicomico Shores, Piney Point and Holland Forest are asked to limit their water usage until power can be restored to the Water System. Please contact METCOM at 301-373-5305 for updates or to report any outages.
St. Mary’s County amateur radio operators are requested to monitor 147.39 mhz and check in with net control at the Leonardtown EOC.
St. Mary’s County Public Schools will be closed on Monday, August 29.
St. Mary’s County will be providing ice on Monday, August 29, 2011, at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department upper parking lot, 24801 Three Notch Road in Hollywood starting at 11:00 AM. Only one 40 pound bag of ice will be available per family until all supplies are exhausted. For more information, please contact 301-475-4911.
Please stay tuned to your local radio, television stations, and the county’s website www.co.saint-marys.md.us for further updates.