- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008


Buildings damaged in rainy, windy storm

A gusty spring storm yesterday damaged several buildings, suspended the Earth Day festival on the Mall and threatened to flood low-lying areas.

The Charles County director of emergency services said a small twister may have touched down near Renner Road in Waldorf, Md.

There was no official confirmation from the National Weather Service of a tornado, but a small twister came close to many businesses and also did damage near a residential area.

“There was some damage done to some buildings,” Charles County government spokesman George Clarkson told WTOP Radio. “Some other trees and different things were also knocked down by the heavy winds.”

Mr. Clarkson said 20 feet of shingles were blown off Thomas Stone High School.

Heavy winds tore off part of the roof of the George E. Peters Seventh-Day Adventist school and turned over trailers in the Hyattsville school’s parking lot, Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said.

A nearby church also was damaged by debris from the school, but no injuries were reported. Students will not be able to attend the school for at least the next few days, Mr. Brady said.

In Montgomery County, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said lightning sparked a fire at a large garage in the Laytonsville area, causing extensive damage to the garage, as well as motorcycles and lawn mowers inside. He said one firefighter suffered a minor injury.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for much of the Washington and Baltimore region, where several inches of rain was expected in some areas. Scattered power outages also were reported.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, a plane preparing to land was struck by lightning. BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean says the plane landed safely and there were no injuries.

The airport spokesman said he did not know where the Jetlink aircraft was struck.



Congestion hampers hurricane readiness

Virginia’s continuing failure to address traffic congestion is making hurricane evacuation preparations more worrisome as Hampton Roads continues to grow.

That’s what area leaders and regional planners are learning after getting a briefing from the state Department of Emergency Management on how long it would take for residents to head west on Interstate 64 in different storm scenarios.

Hampton Roads officials also have learned that coastal and inland tidal regions could face more severe storm-surge flooding because sea levels are getting higher.

A family fleeing a Category 2 hurricane could face a 15-hour trek up I-64 to the outskirts of Richmond before the storm hit. In a Category 3 hurricane, the time would increase to 28 hours because of all the additional people evacuating.

Reversing the eastbound lanes — and allowing everyone to evacuate west on them — would cut the time significantly. Virginia has never ordered the eastbound I-64 reversed to ease an evacuation from Hampton Roads. Such an order can come only from the governor.


11 more markers note historic sites

Eleven new highway markers recognizing events, people and places that had a hand in Virginia’s history will join the more than 2,000 roadside narratives already in place across the state.

Many of the new markers honor black and native Virginians. Another one making the list is NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore.

The Historic Resources Board of the Department of Historic Resources approved the 11 markers during its quarterly board meeting in late March. The official state markers have primarily been installed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.



Fire burns six acres of field, forest

A fire burned about six acres of forest and field near Loch Raven Reservoir on Saturday night, Baltimore County fire officials said.

The blaze was reported at about 5 p.m. and quickly spread, burning dry leaves and brush.

Firefighters battled the blaze for about three hours before bringing it under control and remained on the scene to make sure the fire did not reignite.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries. The cause of the fire had not been determined yesterday.


Arts program plans for 20 murals

Baltimore is commissioning 20 murals this summer, more than double the amount commissioned in recent years for the annual arts program.

Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, said the new displays will complement crime prevention and development efforts the city is focusing on some neighborhoods.

The first-term mayor announced the expanded mural program Saturday during the city’s annual spring cleanup. Thousands of residents turned out for the ninth annual cleanup, which has taken on added significance under Mrs. Dixon, who has promised to make Baltimore “cleaner and greener.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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