WASHINGTON – By 10 a.m. Thursday, the state had ordered 28 emergency relief shelters opened. Maryland State Police had an extra 250 troopers patrolling the roads and four National Guard units were standing by in Dorchester County.
But while local officials prepped for the worst, Hurricane Floyd let them off easy.
In Dorchester County, the skies were clearing and the situation was getting better just a few hours after the storm passed Thursday afternoon, said Wayne Robinson, director of emergency management for the county.
“We really haven’t had any major problems,” Robinson said. “Our big concern is going to be with the tide that is going to come up later tonight.” As of 4 p.m. Thursday, there were no deaths and no reported injuries in the county, he said.
The area was experiencing some flooding and the National Guard was there to assist if problems arose from flooding or high tides. Several county roads were closed because of high waters and one road had been completely washed out, Robinson said.
“Things are OK and are looking better if we get through this next tide,” Robinson said.
More than 600 Marylanders took refuge in emergency shelters early in the day, but they were already filtering out by 5 p.m, according to officials with the American Red Cross. After people ride out the storm in the shelters, Red Cross volunteers help families assess the damage and get back on their feet, assisting them in recovery from the storm.
“It’s the local government’s responsibility for ensuring the safety of their community,” said Red Cross spokesman Darren Irby. “We work very closely with them to make sure that we have an adequate number of shelters and people have a safe place to stay.”
State police, who were on double shifts Thursday, were already beginning to return to normal schedules. “[The troopers] have not been as busy as we expected,” said Maj. Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.
The normal complement of five state troopers in Wicomico County was boosted to 25 for the storm, said Lt. Robin Garber, commander of the Salisbury district. Garber said there were no major problems in Wicomico County, but he was happy to have the extra staff on hand just in case.
“From what we knew about the storm, we had to be prepared like this and I’d rather be over-cautions and make sure the are no problems than have a major one,” Garber said. “I think we could have handled any problem that came to us.”
Irby agreed that the state was prepared – and better off for it.
“Individuals along the hurricane path are taking the storm seriously,” he said. “Things are running very smoothly.”
The only problem troopers found in Wicomico County after the storm rolled through the area was a pothole on Route 50 — which was not storm-related. The pothole was fixed and, “we’re back to normal,” Garber said.