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COLLEGE PARK — Hurricane Florence ravaged North and South Carolina over the weekend and while Maryland did not see much impact from the storm, the state was quick to respond to the disaster and assist those in need.
What was predicted to be a Category 5 storm barreling toward the Carolina’s and parts of Virginia, was downgraded to a tropical depression when it finally made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on Friday, Sept. 14. Despite this, the aftermath of the storm was still dangerous, displacing thousands with several feet of flooding, loss of power and shutting down major highways.
On Monday, Sept. 10, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency allowing the state to efficiently coordinate support and provide assistance to local jurisdictions within Maryland ahead of the disaster.
“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.”
Warning signs were put up on I-95 warning travelers to avoid going too far south to avoid flooded roads and residents were given tips on creating emergency storm kits and other ways to stay safe during the hurricane.
Although the storm was not predicted to hit Prince George’s County directly, it was expected to cause severe storms and significant flooding. In the end, the county did not receive more than overcast skies and scattered showers.
Even though Maryland was fortunate enough to not have any major fallout from the storm, the state stepped up to help those in need through help of the American Red Cross Disaster Program. The state opened up two pet-friendly shelters for those evacuating from the storm. One shelter is at the Ritchie Coliseum at University of Maryland College Park and the other is at the Health Professions and Athletics Center at Chesapeake College.
Additionally, Governor Hogan has deployed the Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (MD-HART) to North Carolina to assist in rescuing those who are stranded from the flooding.
MD-HART deployed on Sunday, Sept. 16 with two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, eight crew members and three maintainers from the Maryland Army National Guard as well as helicopter search and rescue technicians from Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Montgomery Counties.
“As coastal states feel the impact of Hurricane Florence, we are working to ensure that any travelers, evacuees or Maryland residents seeking shelter have a safe place to stay during the storm, and we also stand ready to assist other states,” Hogan said. “This elite team is an excellent example of our state and counties working together to provide support to those in need, and we are proud to have the capability to send the MD-HART to North Carolina.”