The pace of damage from now “Superstorm” Sandy picked up in Bethesda just before 9 p.m. Monday, a trend reflected countywide according to a Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesman.
Assistant Chief Scott Goldstein said “MCFRS noticed an increased tempo of responses,” to downed trees, wires and other damage as winds picked up and heavy rain continued. He urged people to remain in their homes and off the roads.
Despite a relatively low amount of power outages (about 2,500 in nine Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and North Bethesda zip codes, according to the Pepco outage map) a number of trees and downed wires were reported from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Police closed down Glen Clove Parkway near Newport Avenue after a tree fell on an unoccupied car and home in that residential neighborhood around 7:40 p.m.
A tree fell on and knocked down wires on Willard Avenue near North Park Drive and River Road in Chevy Chase around 8:30 p.m., causing live wires on the street.
Downed trees were also reported near Grosvenor Lane and Farnham Drive and near Grosvenor Lane and Cheshire Drive just east of Old Georgetown Road around 8:40 p.m.
Police reported another downed tree in the 9100 block of Kittery Lane, just south of where Bradley Boulevard passes over the Beltway, at about 9:45 p.m. A tree fell on wires and witnesses said sparks were visible.
Goldstein said MCFRS has increased the amount of personnel on-hand through tomorrow and possibly into Wednesday, depending on the need. Montgomery County Police also urged people to stay off the roads:
If you must travel during the storm or after the storm, remember that when approaching a traffic signal without power, state law requires you to treat the intersection as a four-way stop. #mdsandy
While winds are expected to die down Tuesday, rain will continue, causing the second day of a number of closures around Bethesda, the county and the D.C. Metropolitan area.
Officials expect the worst of Hurricane Sandy to come this evening, when the storm makes landfall in Southern New Jersey, according to the National Weather Service:
AT 2 PM EDT… THE CENTER OF HURRICANE SANDY WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 38.3N… LONGITUDE 73.1W. THIS POSITION IS ABOUT 220 MILES EAST OF WASHINGTON DC. SANDY WAS MOVING NORTHWEST AT 28 MPH… WITH MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS OF 90 MPH. SANDY IS FORECAST TO MAKE LANDFALL ALONG THE SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY COAST EARLY THIS EVENING… WITH A LITTLE STRENGTHENING POSSIBLE BEFORE LANDFALL. SANDY WILL SEVERELY IMPACT THE REGION WELL BEFORE IT COMES ASHORE.
Winds will be at their peak from 6 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. tomorrow morning and could reach gusts of 80 miles per hour in the D.C. suburbs:
WINDS WILL INCREASE STEADILY THIS AFTERNOON…WITH THE MAXIMUM WIND GUSTS OCCURRING LATE THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING.
GENERALLY…SUSTAINED WINDS OF 30 TO 50 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 60 MPH CAN BE EXPECTED ACROSS THE ENTIRE REGION.
HURRICANE FORCE WIND GUSTS OF 70 AND POSSIBLY 80 MPH ARE EXPECTED TO IMPACT A REGION LOCATED BETWEEN BEL AIR MD…POINT LOOKOUT MD…AND HAGERSTOWN MD BETWEEN 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM TUESDAY. THIS INCLUDES THE GREATER BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS.
COUPLED WITH HEAVY RAINS FROM SANDY…THE HIGH WINDS WILL RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT TREE DAMAGE AND POWER LINE DAMAGE.
This afternoon, Pepco officials said power outage restoration may take a week in some areas. As of 3:45 p.m., 1,005 customers in six Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington and North Bethesda zip codes were without power, according to Pepco’s online outage map.
Standing water on both sides of Wisconsin Avenue near Davidson Drive caused one accident this afternoon and could only become more dangerous as it continues to rain into tomorrow.
A green sedan collided with a tree near the intersection, just south of Bradley Boulevard, at about 12:30 p.m. It was towed away shortly after, but motorists are advised to slow down in the heavily traveled area between downtown Bethesda and the D.C. line.
Montgomery County and state officials are encouraging residents to stay indoors and off the roads, as conditions from Hurricane Sandy are expected to get worse as the day continues:
This is a serious storm. Please stay off of the roads unless you’re emergency or essential personnel. Heed warnings from officials. #MDSandy
— MDMEMA (@MDMEMA) October 29, 2012
Montgomery County will open three shelters today in its continuing preparation for the worst of Hurricane Sandy, which Pepco says will lead to a potentially massive amount of power outages.
The shelters, which open at noon, are located at the White Oak Community Recreation Center (1700 April Lane, Silver Spring), the Activity Center at Bohrer Park (506 S. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg) and the Mid-County Community Recreation Center (2004 Queensguard Rd., Silver Spring).
The White Oak Community Recreation Center will also be open to pets. The Activity Center at Bohrer Park and the Mid-County Community Recreation Center are open to people only.
In an emergency briefing this morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) urged only those who must leave their homes because of damage or power outages to use the shelters.
The Gude Men’s homeless shelter (600 E. Gude Dr., Rockville) and Progress Place homeless shelter (8210 Colonial Lane, Silver Spring) are open.
Montgomery County is urging those who go to the shelters to bring certain items:
Those going to shelters are advised to bring prescription medicines, critical phone numbers, and any comfort items such as personal pillows. Residents taking their pets to the White Oak shelter are advised that the shelter will be capable of housing dogs, cats, and small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. The shelter will be staffed by the County Animal Services Division and the volunteer County Animal Response Team (CART).
County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) released a statement this morning, most of it focused on Pepco’s efforts to prepare for and fix expected power outages. Berliner said it could take a day and a half before crews can begin to restore power to neighborhoods:
After conferring with our County’s CAO, I feel confident that our County has prepared as well as we can for this storm. It will intensify as the day goes on, peaking this evening, and staying for a day plus. The sustained winds and wet ground will undoubtedly result in extensive tree damage.
Of course, power is the key and the most vulnerable. I have communicated directly with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, and he made it clear that they took full advantage of the lead time to prepare and press Pepco and the other utilities to do the same.
I have spoken with Pepco’s Regional President Thomas Graham and they feel that they have done everything they can do to prepare as well, starting last Wednesday. The utilities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast that are expected to feel the effects of the storm have requested 15,000 more help through the “mutual assistance” process than exists, so Pepco will not be getting near its requested level of manpower. They currently have or will soon have approximately 2,000 plus hands on deck. Given the sustained level of winds, it could be more than a day and a half before crews can really even begin to restore power in neighborhoods.
I told Mr. Graham that I was rooting for them — we need them to be at their very best, including communications.
Our Council joins with so many others in urging everyone to be extra careful, take care of your families, look in on your neighbors, and . . . cross your fingers.
Michael Wilhelm Breithaupt, 54, of the 3700 block of East West Highway remained in critical condition Friday after colliding with a Montgomery County school bus at about 2:30 p.m. in the intersection of Darnestown Road and Berryville Road in Darnestown.
Police said they were still investigating why both Breithaupt and the school bus entered the intersection at the same time. Breithaupt was traveling northbound on Berryville Road and the school bus was traveling eastbound on Darnestown Road, police said.
As of this weekend, police were also looking for help in finding Breithaupt’s car, a black 1991 Jeep he parked before beginning his ride. Cycle Moco says his wife believes he may have ridden with a group named the Spartans.
Police are asking anyone with information to the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.
With conditions expected to worsen from Hurricane Sandy, officials are urging people to stay home today.
A tractor trailer overturned on the inner loop of the Beltway this morning, crashing into a barrier fence over Cedar Lane and causing debris to fall on to the roadway below.
The accident occurred when the truck jackknifed on the Beltway shortly before 8:30 this morning, according to scanner traffic.
Winds are expected to increase to 70 mile per hour gusts, combining with heavy rain to cause downed trees and wires that Pepco says will lead to a significant amount of power outages.
Montgomery County just announced all county parking garages and lots will be free through Tuesday.
MCPS, Metro, County and Federal Governments Closed — With heavy rain and winds of up to 70 miles per hour expected later today and into tomorrow from Sandy, officials are bracing for significant power outages, flooding and damage. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) yesterday called it a “killer storm.” [Washington Post]
Adams Morgan Restaurant Opening Bethesda Avenue Location — Himalayan Heritage, the well-reviewed Indian and Nepalese restaurant in Adams Morgan, is opening a new location in the former space of the Queen Bee Cafe at 4925 Bethesda Ave. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]
State Prosecutor Ends Investigation of County Officials — Emmet C. Davitt ended his investigation of county officials for their use of taxpayer money in this fall’s police effects bargaining battle, saying any actions were “undertaken without criminal intent.” He asked the Attorney General for an opinion. [Maryland Juice]