- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a dire warning to residents on Monday, urging them to stay indoors as the storm caused by Hurricane Sandy blankets the state.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said he expects the storm to bring heavy rain, gusting winds and extensive damage to the state over the next 24 hours, and predicted it could bring grave consequences.

At a 9:30 p.m. news conference Monday, Mr. O’Malley and a forecaster with the National Weather Service said that while the storm had weakened and the state had endured battering winds and constant rainfall all day, the worst would come through the night.

“I feel like we’re only just now beginning the rough part of this storm,” Mr. O’Malley said from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Reisterstown. “The next 12 hours will most likely be the most intense.”

By Monday night, Mr. O’Malley said that 280,000 Marylanders were without power. And, he said, the center of the storm was forecast to travel through northern Maryland — specifically Cecil and Harford counties — through the night. Mr. O’Malley noted that half of the homes in these two counties are already without electricity.

The state has canceled early voting for Tuesday and state government will also be closed for all but essential personnel.

Earlier in the day, O’Malley did not mince words when talking about the storm.

“There will be people who die and are killed in this storm,” the governor said during a Monday morning news conference.

As of early Tuesday morning, at least 13 deaths were confirmed as a result of the storm. One was in Maryland, where Anne Arundel County fire officials say a man was killed when a tree fell on a house and trapped him in Pasadena. Anne Arundel County Division Chief Michael Cox said firefighters were called to the home at about 11 p.m. Monday. The male occupant was pronounced dead at the scene by fire personnel, Chief Cox said.

At about 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, Howard County fire and rescue crews took three people from a North Laurel home to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. The people were apparently running a generator inside their home, without proper ventilation.

Mr. O’Malley repeated several times that the 12 hours between Monday night and Tuesday morning will be the most critical yet. His biggest concerns are coastal flooding and trees that “will no doubt crack and fall on the roofs of people’s houses.”

“For the night, the watchword is stay inside,” Mr. O’Malley said. “Don’t go outside. Don’t go on the road.”

The governor has already declared a state of emergency in Maryland and said he expects the night to bring many downed trees and thousands of power outages.

Mr. O’Malley said Pepco and BGE — the state’s two largest utilities — have brought in extra crews to help assess damage and restore power after the storm, but that many residents could remain in the dark long after the storm leaves the mid-Atlantic.

“Those crews can’t go up in those bucket trucks in 60-mile-an-hour winds, so this is going to be a long haul,” he said. “The days ahead are going to be very difficult.”

Despite the long day and coming long night, Mr. O’Malley was optimistic Monday night.

“Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be able to get out there and start cleaning up,” he said.

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