High winds and flooding will be the major concerns for Washington County when the area is hit by the hurricane, according to emergency officials.
Much of the rapid stream flooding could occur between Monday afternoon and Tuesday around 6 p.m., said Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Sterling, Va.
The Potomac River could get a “pretty good rise” by Tuesday, Witt said Sunday night. High levels on the Potomac River could extend into Friday, although the weather service will have a better idea what might happen on the river once the expected heavy rain starts to move in, Witt said.
While only light, intermittent rain was falling in the Hagerstown area Sunday afternoon, people already were getting jittery.
Katharyn Rentzell said she was looking for D-size batteries for her son’s nebulizer to treat his asthma. Rentzell, of Hagerstown, said she needed the batteries to provide a backup power source for the machine in case she loses power during the storm.
Rentzell said she looked for the batteries at stores throughout the Hagerstown area Sunday, but they were sold out everywhere she went.
“Everything is falling apart at once,” said Rentzell, as she relayed a number of other issues she was dealing with at home to prepare for the weather.
Rentzell, who was looking for the batteries at the Lowe’s store on Wesel Boulevard, said she finally found some at Toys R Us near the Valley Mall. She asked a worker at Toys R Us to save her some batteries until she could get there.
Hurricane Sandy still was a Category 1 hurricane Sunday evening when it was 270 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., National Weather Service forecaster Nikole Listemaa said.
Williamsport maintenance workers were clearing leaves from the spouting along the roof of the Williamsport branch of the Washington County Free Library on Monday morning, said Jamie Hill, a clerk for the town.
The town-owned library building, at 104 E. Potomac St., has a flat roof and the spouting was being cleaned out as a precaution with the storm moving in, she said.
Preparing for power loss
The high winds and rain could take down trees or parts of trees, breaking power lines, Meyers said. Some FirstEnergy customers could experience extended outages, since it could be difficult to get to a lot of the areas that will need work and crews might have to wait out the worst of it before repairs can be made, he said.
“There are times when you almost have to let some of the worst of the weather pass before you can safely get out and do anything,” Meyers said.
FirstEnergy workers gassed up utility trucks and were making sure they had enough poles and transformers, while line crews packed as they waited to learn to which part of Maryland they would be dispatched, Meyers said.
Several yellow Pike Electric utility trucks were seen on local roads Sunday as about 100 Pike workers, including 85 linemen from Indiana and Ohio, arrived to help once the storm hits the Williamsport area, Meyers said. The Pike crews had been in Florida and the Carolinas, he said.
In addition to those crews, FirstEnergy had more than 300 employees in Maryland “ready to fight the storm,” Meyers said.
Because FirstEnergy’s entire territory, from New Jersey to Ohio, could be hit by the storm, FirstEnergy was looking as far away as Washington state and Canada for assistance, Meyers said.