David Milligan has been trained to prepare for such conditions as the tropical storm weather headed our way.
As College Park chair of the Citizen Corp Council, a network of local volunteer groups, he helps our community to prepare for threats and disasters of all kinds, among other roles.
The Citizen Corp is coordinated by FEMA, and its volunteers go through ongoing training.
"We need to be prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best," Milligan said of Hurricane Irene, quoting a recent news broadcast.
The worst conditions in College Park and the surrounding area , and the National Weather Service urges residents to make final preparations now.
Patch spoke with Milligan for a few tips on how area residents should prepare for the expected tropical storm weather from Hurricane Irene, currently moving up the East Coast. Some of them were not so obvious:
- Take out some extra cash from the ATM today. If power goes out, that means stores won't be able to use their credit card machines.
- Fill up your tank. Milligan doesn't expect a widespread evacuation of our area, but power could go out at gas stations, and stay out after this weekend's storm. As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, Shell at 10600 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville had the best price. If you're down to the last minute, the best price you'll find in College Park is at XtraMart, 8721 Baltimore Ave., according to Gas Buddy.
- Clear gutters. You'll also want to make sure your downspout is pointed in the direction that gets the water as far away from your house as possible.
- Get flashlights. If the power goes out, especially Saturday night into Sunday when conditions are at their worst, you'll be glad you did. Milligan recommends getting an LED lantern or some other hand-cranked device that runs for hours. If you already have flashlights, make sure they are in working condition.
- Secure loose items outside or bring them inside. Although wind speeds won't be as destructive here as they'll be on the East Coast, you'll still want to make sure there is nothing outside that can blow away and damage homes, people or animals.
- Stay inside. This sounds obvious, but even after the storm ends, you'll want to stay indoors for a bit due to trees and power lines that could topple. Milligan said that the rain over the past week and what is coming this weekend will soften the ground, making tree roots less secure. "Usually in this area that means they'll fall on power lines," he said.
- Don't drive. There is a flash flood warning for the area from Saturday into Sunday, and Milligan said that the southern part of College Park has experienced flash floods in the past, even carrying away cars. Take it seriously.
Other tips from the city's Director of Public Services Bob Ryan:
- Call the city's public work's phone number (240-487-3590) to report downed trees and blocked roads.
- Actively listen to public media reports regarding progress of the storm, and Emergency Alert System messages provided through the news media.
- Check out the emergency preparedness information available on the FEMA website.
The University of Maryland Department of Public Safety urges students and faculty to register for emergency warnings and updates to be texted and/or e-mailed.