CHESTERTOWN — With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast, Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Monday well ahead of any expected landfall.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence remained a category 4 hurricane Wednesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and higher gusts.
The winds are reportedly extending outward up to 70 miles from the center of Florence, with tropical-storm force winds extending out up to 175 miles. Florence is reported to be moving west-northwest at about 17 mph.
“While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it nears the U.S. coast,” a report from the National Hurricane Center states.
Florence is closing in on North and South Carolina and its effects are expected to be felt up the East Coast, according to an Associated Press report Tuesday. How much Maryland will feel the effects of the hurricane remained uncertain Wednesday.
Hogan’s executive order declaring a state of emergency will allow the state to more efficiently coordinate support and provide assistance to local jurisdictions within Maryland and neighboring states, a news release states.
“At this time, there is still some uncertainty about the track of this storm and its potential impact, but we are preparing for any possible outcome, including the potential of historic, catastrophic, and life-threatening flooding in Maryland,” Hogan said. “Our state is taking every precaution, and I urge all Marylanders to do the same. Stay tuned to your local news stations for the latest updates, listen to state and local authorities, and most importantly, use common sense.”
The state of emergency allows the governor to access resources to increase the state’s response, like the Maryland National Guard, the release states. It also allows Maryland to receive assistance from other states as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
“A state of emergency is a good indicator that residents should remain alert and follow officials’ orders, news stations, and weather forecasts in order to be informed of the situation,” Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russell Strickland, said. “We encourage all residents and visitors to our state to visit www.KnowYourZoneMD.com to see if they are inside, or if they are traveling to a hurricane evacuation zone.”
Kent County Sheriff John F. Price said Tuesday that extra deputies will be stationed around the county at the various firehouses as the effects of the hurricane increase in the area. He said that will ensure faster response times for emergency calls.
“It’s looking like we may see a little bit of a (storm) surge with the tides and so forth. Potentially there’s going to be some wind and an awful lot of rain,” he said.
Price reminded residents to make sure they have enough water and supplies on hand to be able to take care of themselves for a few days.
Superintendent Karen Couch said the school district is working with the Kent County Office of Emergency Services to track the hurricane.
“We will stay on top of the storm and make decisions based on the storm track as it is evolves. Information, updates and closings will be communicated to parents and staff through media, text messages, phone calls, emails and school apps,” Couch said in an email Tuesday.
Washington College does not currently expect to close campus, based on the forecast.
“We continue to evaluate the approach of Hurricane Florence and how it may affect the campus,” said Director of Media Relations Wendy Mitman Clarke in an email Tuesday afternoon. “We will update the campus community daily or more frequently as conditions warrant.”
As for local event cancellations, the Rock Hall Mayor and Council will not hold its meeting scheduled for Thursday night.
The special Kent Goes Purple events highlighting addiction awareness at Friday night’s Kent County High School football game have been postponed to Sept. 28. Former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl cham pion Qadry Ismail was expected to appear at Friday’s game. He is set to be at the Sept. 28 game.
The Sultana Education Foundation has postponed its annual gala that had been scheduled for Saturday. The “Smoke and Mirrors” event will now be held on Oct. 6.