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Emergency agencies brace for ‘Stormzilla’

(10/26) By the time the readers of the News-Journal read this, it may be over, or it may not, depending on which model holds up as "Stormzilla," Sandy, hammers its way passed the Mid-Atlantic offshore, or into Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Models aside, the region must still prepare for the possibility of the "storm of the century" as Hurricane Sandy heads toward a collision course with a northeastern class storm somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic Region with the Mason-Dixon line in its sights.

Seamus Mooney, director of emergency preparedness, Frederick County Division of Emergency Management, said late last week that the county Department of Public Works has already been dispatched to clear culverts and drainage ditches to facilitate the passage of any storm water accruing during the storm. "We want to make sure those are opened up."

In addition, maintenance workers are being sent to check out power and back-up electricity generators at county facilities for prepare them for possible impact should the storm strike.

The school board has also been meeting to discuss county school-related issues any severe storm could inflict.

As of late last week, he said, "Every model that comes out (predicting Sandy’s storm track), the storm is projected shifting westward. The more west it comes, the worst it comes to be. A little bit of the unknown is the cold front," Mooney stated, "which could hold the storm up and cause it to sit over us a day or so," possibly into the first of November.

With trees still laden with leaves, a direct hit of a significant storm could result in downed limbs and trees taking down power lines, and flooding. In a worst case scenario, flooding could last for days and power outages could last as long as it takes for power companies to untangle the mess, repair the damages, and get back on-line.

As is the case in many regional and local emergency management or response entities, the Fairfield Regional Emergency Management Agency (FREMA) was in wait-and-see mode.

Andrew "AJ" Aldrich, FREMA emergency management coordinator, said the staff reviewed in emergency management plan in preparation. "We just rewrote it a couple of months ago, so it’s pretty much up to speed," he stated.

"Like everybody else, we’re just watching the weather," he said. FREMA also sent out emails to make "to see the (FREMA) staff will be in the area and give them a heads up."

Hurricane Sandy had already inflicted 21 deaths across the Caribbean, 11 of which occurred in Cuba, nine in Haiti, and one in Jamaica, as it prepared to make its northward turn towards the United States October 26.

Sandy was project to travel off-shore until it potentially impacted the Mid-Atlantic and collides with the northeaster.

Atlantic hurricane season generally occurs from May 15 through November 30, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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