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Deputy Executive Director from Department of Emergency Management Selected for Inaugural FEMA Exchange Program

July 12th, 2022

Eby photo

REISTERSTOWN, MD (July 12, 2022) — Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) Deputy Executive Director Chas Eby has been selected to be one of the first participants in the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Exchange Program. Eby will be working with FEMA leadership in Washington, DC through the end of the year to implement programs to deliver disaster recovery assistance to survivors and communities.

“I am honored to represent my home State in this new initiative to strengthen the field of emergency management,“ said Eby. “This is an opportunity to join best practices developed in Maryland with innovative programs FEMA is advancing.”

Eby is one of four individuals selected nationwide to the first cohort of this program. According to FEMA, the exchange program will provide an avenue to strengthen FEMA’s partnerships with state, territory, tribal, and local emergency managers to increase community resilience against disasters.

“This is a great opportunity for Chas and Maryland,” said Secretary of Emergency Management Russ Strickland. “He will bring excellent knowledge of state emergency management operations along with his exceptional collaboration skills to the program. Our department is proud of his selection and proud to be a national leader in our field .”

Eby has worked at the Department of Emergency Management for eight years, overseeing all programs, administration, and emergency operations in his current role. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School. Eby has completed the FEMA National Emergency Management Executive Academy and a fellowship with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. He is from and resides in the City of Baltimore.

You can find more information about FEMA’s Emergency Manager Exchange at fema.gov/partnerships/emergency-manager-exchange.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Looking Back: The 50th Anniversary of Hurricane Agnes

June 22nd, 2022
Lessons Learned Help Prepare Maryland for Future Storms

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (June 22, 2022) — This June marks the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Agnes striking Maryland and cutting a devastating path across much of the East Coast. According to the National Weather Service, Agnes was one of the most destructive hurricanes in United States history, claiming 117 lives and causing damage estimated at $3.1 billion in 12 states. Damage was particularly high in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

In Maryland, 21 lives were lost to flooding spawned by the remnants of Agnes, and it remains the deadliest named storm in state history. Agnes highlights the inland flooding threats from tropical storms, which often claims more lives and causes more damage than the high winds and storm surge where the storms make landfall.

“Agnes highlighted the dangers of inland flooding in Maryland from tropical storms,” said Maryland Department of Emergency Management Secretary Russ Strickland. “The aftermath of Agnes also has shown the importance of mitigating future flood events. In downtown Frederick, for example, the Carroll Creek flood mitigation project has reduced flooding in the area and has created a walkable greenspace that enhances the business district.”

The storm made landfall on the Florida panhandle as a weak hurricane  and quickly dropped to a tropical storm while heading northeast through Georgia, South Carol, and North Carolina. The storm headed out to sea at the North Carolina-Virginia border as it began to affect the mid-Atlantic. For the next two days, the center of the storm traveled along the Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey coast line, dumping heavy rains  in areas west of the storm track.

Agnes made landfall again over Long Island and eventually into southeast New York state on the night of June 22, and then was joined by a low-pressure system.  This created two storm centers, one of which moved into south central New York, and another that formed in northeastern Pennsylvania before looping southwest into central Pennsylvania.

Not only did the storm drop heavy rain on Maryland as it moved up the coast, but the heavy rains in central New York and Pennsylvania caused heavy flooding in northeast Maryland from the Susquehanna River watershed several days later.

Want to learn more about the history of Agnes and some of the ways it changes flood mitigation and emergency management? A website focusing on the history of the storm and flood mitigation effort has been created by several Silver Jackets teams in the mid-Atlantic region. Silver Jackets are state-based teams of State, local and federal partners who work together to reduce risks from floods and other weather-related events. The National Weather Service also has a page dedicated to historical events related to Hurricane Agnes.

Hurricane Agnes was a costly but valuable lesson in emergency preparedness. This hurricane season, keep yourself and your family safe by learning about the following preparedness steps.

Know Your Zone: 

It’s as easy as A-B-C. Know Your Zone is a new color-coded interactive map you can use to determine which storm evacuation zone you live in based upon your street address. Knowing your zone will help you avoid unnecessary evacuation travel, thereby reducing highway congestion, easing overcrowding at local storm shelters and boosting public safety. Simply click the ‘Find Your Zone” button. Enter your address on the map and view your color-coded evacuation zone. Emergency managers will work with local media and use social media and other tools to notify residents of impacted zones and what to do to stay safe.

You can learn more and find your Zone here: bit.ly/-Know-Your-Zone

Make a Plan:

  • Prepare an emergency kit and create a family communications plan.
  • Have multiple ways to receive weather watches and warnings and keep devices charged so they will still be usable for several hours if you lose power.
  • Familiarize yourself with hurricane evacuation routes in your area and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Trim the trees and shrubs around your home to make them more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage can, and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Consider installing a generator for emergency backup power generation.

You can learn more about what to do Before, During, and After a Hurricane here: bit.ly/-Before-During-After

Create a Kit:

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life.

To prepare your kit, gather the following supplies:

  • Food
  • Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tools and Supplies
  • Sanitation
  • Clothing & Bedding
  • Special Items for children, older adults, those with special needs and pets.

You can learn more about building a Disaster Kit here: bit.ly/-Build-A-Kit

NOTE: Emergency Management staff will be available for media interviews to discuss Hurricane Agnes and its aftermath over the next several days,

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Marylanders Urged to Know Your Zone as 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins

June 1st, 2022

Be Prepared With an Emergency Plan and Kit     

REISTERSTOWN, MD (June 1, 2022) The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starts today and the Maryland Department of Emergency Management reminds people who live in, work in, or visit Maryland to Know Your Zone if a large storm requires evacuations from coastal and tidal areas. This season will also mark the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Agnes, still the deadliest named storm in State history.

Recent hurricane seasons have been unusually busy – 2020 set a record for named Atlantic Hurricanes – so it is important to Know Your Zone, and also have an emergency plan, a disaster supply kit, and multiple ways to receive warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency officials. Last year, Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in the Gulf of Mexico, still managed to cause tornadoes and flooding in Maryland and dangerous flash floods in the New York City area.

“Hurricane Ida taught us yet again that you don’t need to live in a coastal community to feel the impacts of tropical systems,” said Maryland Secretary of Emergency Management Russ Strickland. “While coastal storm surge and hurricane force winds are vivid images of hurricanes, in our area, inland flooding and tornadoes can be the biggest threats to life and property.”

When the remnants of Ida passed over Maryland last summer, several tornadoes were spawned, inducing one that caused substantial damage in the Annapolis area. Heavy rains also caused flash floods, inundating basement apartments at a complex in Montgomery County that led to a drowning. Farther up the coast, Ida’s heavy rains caused widespread flooding in New York City subway tunnels.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center are predicting above-average hurricane activity this year — which would make it the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season. NOAA’s outlook for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which extends from June 1 to November 30, predicts a 65 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 25 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.

For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.

Marylanders should Know Your Zone to see if the places you live, work, or visit are in one of Maryland’s three evacuation zones. The Know Your Zone program allows local emergency officials to order evacuations by letter zones (A, B, and C) to more easily provide information to those in the area.

Here are some additional considerations while planning for hurricanes and other hazards: 

  • Plan now! Do not wait until the peak of hurricane season.
  • Pay attention to emergency information and alerts.
  • Determine your best protection for high winds and flooding.
  • Unless you live in an evacuation zone, make a plan to shelter-in-place in your home if it is safe to do so.
  • If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone, make a plan with friends or family to shelter with them where you will be safer and more comfortable.
  • Check with local authorities for the latest information about public evacuation shelters. Many may still require the use of masks.
  • Only use outdoor generators that are at least 20 feet away from your home and away from windows, doors, and vents.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.

For more information about hurricane preparedness, including sample emergency plans and supply kit information, please visit MDEM, FEMA, the National Weather Service, and the American Red Cross

For access to preparedness tips and information, install the MdReady web app by visiting MdReady.Maryland.gov on your mobile device’s web browser. To receive text alerts, tips, and resources related to threats and hazards that may affect Maryland, text “MdReady” to 211-MD1 (211-631).

 

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Maryland Resources Available for Preventing and Preparing for Active Assailant Events 

May 25th, 2022

School safety logo - AAIWG

Active Assailant Interdisciplinary Work Group

 

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 25, 2022) – On behalf of the Maryland Center for School Safety and Active Assailant Interdisciplinary Work Group for the State of Maryland, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and communities directly affected by the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, as well as those across the country who are shaken by these events in their own local communities. 

In Maryland, we have been committed to working on the prevention of mass violence and preparedness and response to such events in a collaborative fashion with our State, federal and local partners with increased attention and diligence with a series of actions directed by Governor Hogan in 2018.  

This includes ensuring there are ample resources available to the public. The Maryland Active Assailant Interdisciplinary Work Group keeps a robust resource library related to the prevention of, preparedness for, and response to active assailant incidents.  The materials are divided into general prevention and early intervention resources, as well as sector or audience-specific materials relevant to specific industries, communities, or events. To find resources and learn more, visit aaiwg.maryland.gov.

The State offers multiple resources for assistance.  For school safety concerns, we offer the Safe Schools Maryland (SSMD) anonymous reporting system. SSMD exists to ensure that individuals have a mechanism to report school and student safety concerns anonymously and securely. Anonymous reports can be submitted by calling (1-833-MD-B-SAFE / 1-833-632-7233), completing an online form, or downloading the free Safe Schools Maryland app from the App Store or Google Play.​ More information on Safe Schools Maryland can be found at safeschoolsmd.org.   For non-emergency suspicious activity reports, call the Maryland Coordination and ;Analysis Center (MCAC) at 1-800-492-TIPS(8477).  And, if you or someone you know needs assistance with mental or behavioral health care, please check the Behavioral Health Administration’s Help Page, or contact Maryland’s Helpline at 2-1-1 press 1.

The passage of the Safe to Learn Act of 2018 expanded resources and programming of the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS).   MCSS provides schools and school systems throughout the State with training and support on school safety prevention and intervention, emergency preparedness, and creating and maintaining healthy school communities.  MCSS maintains a directory of school safety resources on its website for students, teachers, and families, and will also send staff to conduct training sessions on topics of interest.  To learn more, please visit schoolsafety.maryland.gov.

By Executive Order issued on February 28, 2018, Governor Hogan authorized the Maryland Active Assailant Interdisciplinary Work Group (AAIWG), co-chaired by the Maryland State Police (MSP) and Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), with oversight from the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM).  The work group is composed of several local, state and federal agencies, including the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS), to ensure all procedures are cohesive across jurisdictional boundaries.

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CONTACT: Active Assailant Interdisciplinary Work Group, 410-281-2361 or aaiwg.mdem@maryland.gov.

 

410.281.2361 | aaiwg.mema@maryland.gov

 


Town of Crisfield to Receive Technical Assistance from The Federal Emergency Management Agency After State of Maryland’s Successful Application

May 24th, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (May 24, 2022) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide Direct Technical Assistance (DTA) to the Town of Crisfield to prepare a competitive grant application for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. Crisfield is only one of 20 sub-applicants in the U.S. to be selected as a recipient.

“Mitigation is crucial to the future of communities near the Chesapeake Bay as they face ever-increasing threats from flooding,” said Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) Secretary Russ Strickland. “Investing in mitigation projects saves money by reducing damages from future events. I like to say that in emergency management, mitigation is the center of the universe.”

In fiscal year 2021, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management submitted an application for nearly $27.6 million in BRIC projects aimed at reducing disaster risk statewide. This year, FEMA’S Direct Technical Assistance will help Crisfield develop competitive applications that are eligible for potential funding of mitigation projects as well as funding to administer those projects. Like many smaller communities, Crisfield’s lack of resources and personnel make it difficult to navigate the process required to receive funding. This Somerset County community is located where the Little Annemessex River meets the Chesapeake Bay and has been the scene of many flooding events caused by high tides, storm surge, and heavy rainfall.

BRIC grants provide funding for projects that mitigate against these and other hazards, and DTA makes it possible for communities like Crisfield to have a chance at obtaining badly needed funding for hazard mitigation projects. This program will connect the City with experienced mentors who can discuss best practices and lessons learned in other similar communities to help create successful projects to encourage community-wide resilience.

While Crisfield has seen an increase in nuisance flooding from tides and minor storms in recent years, it was the hardest hit community in Maryland during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, with severe damage to buildings and public infrastructure near its harbor. In addition to the dangers inherent to the topography, the City also has documented drainage issues due to an aging stormwater system.

To learn more about BRIC, visit fema.gov/ne/node/626155. To learn more about FEMA’s Direct Technical Assistance visit fema.gov/ne/node/631121.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


FEMA to Evaluate Readiness of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland

April 22nd, 2022

Emergency preparedness exercise scheduled for the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station

PHILADELPHIA – The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will evaluate a Biennial Radiological Emergency Preparedness Exercise for communities around the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. The exercise will occur during the week of April 25, 2022 to assess the ability of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland to respond to an emergency at the nuclear facility.

“These drills are held every other year to evaluate government’s ability to protect public health and safety,” said MaryAnn Tierney, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 3. “We will assess state and local government emergency response capabilities within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Maryland.”

Within 90 days, FEMA will send its evaluation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for use in licensing decisions.  The final report will be available to the public approximately 120 days after the exercise.

FEMA will present preliminary findings of the exercise during a public meeting at 10:30 a.m. on April 29, 2022.  The meeting will be conducted in a virtual format via Zoom.   Planned speakers include representatives from FEMA and the NRC.  Access to the public meeting is provided below:

Join ZoomGov Meeting
https://fema.zoomgov.com/j/1614341555
Meeting ID: 161 434 1555
Passcode: 688311

At the public meeting, FEMA may request that questions or comments be submitted in writing for review and response. Written comments may also be submitted after the meeting by emailing FEMAR3NewsDesk@fema.dhs.gov or by mail to:

MaryAnn Tierney
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region III
615 Chestnut Street, 6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106

FEMA created the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program to (1) ensure the health and safety of citizens living around commercial nuclear power plants would be adequately protected in the event of a nuclear power plant accident and (2) inform and educate the public about radiological emergency preparedness.

REP Program responsibilities cover only “offsite” activities, that is, state and local government emergency planning and preparedness activities that take place beyond the nuclear power plant boundaries. Onsite activities continue to be the responsibility of the NRC.

Additional information on FEMA’s REP Program is available online at FEMA.gov/Radiological-Emergency-Preparedness-Program.

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FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region 3’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

 Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3 and on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/femaregion3


Maryland 9-1-1 Board Warns that 3G Network Mobile Phones May Cease Operating in 2022

December 14th, 2021

AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile Have Announced Plans to Discontinue 3G Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (December 14, 2021) — The Maryland 9-1-1 Board is issuing a warning to consumers that older phones may cease operating in early 2022 due to the retirement of 3G networks and support for phones using 3G service. This may include other devices that use 3G connectivity, such as some medical alert devices, tablets, smart watches, and home security systems. The nation’s three major wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) have each announced that they plan to discontinue 3G service in favor of 4G (LTE) and 5G service in 2022. According to the FCC’s website, AT&T will discontinue service in February, T-Mobile/Sprint will discontinue service between March and July, and Verizon will discontinue service at the end of 2022 (See www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/plan-ahead-phase-out-3g-cellular-networks-and-service).

Most users of these services will be notified directly by the carriers if this discontinuation affects them. However, users of older phones used for 9-1-1 only purposes may not be notified if they do not have active service with the provider. It has long been the practice of some organizations for the homeless or domestic violence shelters to provide clients with older phones with no service, since those phones could still be used to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Users of those older 9-1-1 only phones should be aware that they may not work after 3G service is discontinued.

Low-income individuals who are concerned that their 9-1-1 only phones may no longer be supported should consider applying for service through the federal Lifeline Program. Information regarding eligibility and participating providers can be found at www.lifelinesupport.org.


Maryland Travel Safety Week Reminds Travelers to be Prepared as Busy Holiday Season Approaches

November 19th, 2021

As Airport, Traffic Volume Rises to Near Pre-Pandemic Level, Be Ready for Longer Travel Times, Lingering COVID-19 Safety Requirements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REISTERSTOWN, MD (November 19, 2021) —  Experts say travel is returning to near pre-pandemic levels for both holiday and regular day-to-day travel, and the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) wants to make sure you are as safe as possible as you move around. MDEM’s Annual Maryland Travel Safety Week is an effort to ensure that residents are equipped with the latest travel safety information as we approach what is normally the busiest travel week of the year. MDEM would like travelers to remember three things:

  1. Know Before You Go.
  2. If You See Something, Say Something.
  3. Be aware of COVID-19 restrictions that may still be in place where you travel.

“As more people travel to be with family and friends this holiday season, it is important to remember to be aware of your surroundings,” said MDEM Secretary Russ Strickland. “Some of us may be visiting places we have not been to in a while and might be using modes of transportation we haven’t used recently. It is important to remain alert so you can have a safe, hassle free visit.”

MDEM designated November 21-27 as Maryland Travel Safety Week in preparation of the beginning of holiday travel to encourage safe travel all year on all modes of transportation.  MDEM encourages travelers to learn about safe travel practices whether using roads, air, or rail, and as pedestrians and bike riders. You should also be aware of safety at various types of lodgings and at gatherings.

MDEM encourages Marylanders to review some of these simple practices recommended by safety specialists covering a variety of transportation methods.

Know Before You Go — Do not leave your house for travel uninformed, unprepared, and hoping to learn about travel conditions and your destination while enroute. Check on road and traffic conditions along your route; check for last minute delays or cancellations before heading to the airport or train station; always check local weather forecasts to make sure you pack appropriate clothing and prepare for potential travel delays.

If You See Something, Say Something — If you see a suspicious activity, device or package; or if you overhear a suspicious conversation, report it immediately to a facility manager, carrier employee, or law enforcement. If you see accidents or hazards along the roadway or hiking/biking trails, make sure to alert local law enforcement, highway officials, or parks employees so it can be removed.

COVID-19 Restrictions — Different communities and businesses have different pandemic travel restrictions related to vaccination status, test results, face coverings and distancing. Have electronic and/or paper copies of your COVID-19 vaccination records and pack extra face coverings for all family members to use where required. Remember that federal regulations require masks in all passenger airports and aircraft.

General COVID-19 travel safety tips

  • Do not travel if you are sick, with someone else who is sick, or if you have been around anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
  • Bring additional antiseptic wipes or hand sanitizer, but beware of the size restrictions of liquid containers that can be carried onto a commercial airplane.
  • Maintain required distancing based on the regulation for the air,  rail, or bus provider.
  • COVID-19 may impact the amount of passengers, capacity of terminals and airport screening areas, and the availability of certain facilities, so factor this into your travel time.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has COVID-19 safety tips for traveling and general information.

Safety tips when traveling by motor vehicle

  • Allow extra time for travel due to increased traffic and congestion.
  • Stay alert and give driving your full attention.
  • Show courtesy to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists and don’t drive aggressively.
  • Comply with traffic laws and heed all traffic signs, signals, and markings.
  • Make sure all passengers are using seat belts and car seats properly.
  • Make sure to have an emergency kit in your car with jumper cables, snacks, bottled water, and seasonally appropriate items like blankets and sand or cat litter.
  • Be especially careful in work zones and remember to always pull over one lane (if safely possible) or reduce speeds when emergency or service vehicles are on the shoulder.
  • Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear U.S. DOT-approved helmets in many states. Drivers must wear eye protection as well.  Check regulations where you will be traveling.

Other information for safe travel on the roads is available from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration or  AAA Mid-Atlantic. For information about safety on Maryland toll roads, bridges, and tunnels, please visit the Maryland Transportation AuthorityMDOT SHA also has motorcycle safety tips. For safety tips related to large commercial vehicles and intercity (non-transit) busses, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Safety tips when traveling by taxi or rideshare

  • Ask ahead for the typical price and tipping range.
  • Call for a taxi instead of hailing one.
  • If using a shared ride service like Uber or Lyft, make sure you verify the correct driver before getting into the car.
  • Look for a meter, a radio, a badge, and a door handle.
  • Sit in the backseat – not in the passenger seat.
  • Keep expensive items hidden and keep your things close.

Here are taxi safety tips from the Travel Insurance Review and here is a link to the taxi riders consumer bill of rights from the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Safety tips when traveling by air

  • Be on time, allow time to get through the security checkpoint, and build in time for possible schedule changes.
  • Always stay alert and watch your bags and belongings.
  • Don’t let anyone but uniformed airline personnel handle your bags.
  • If you need help navigating the airport, check with the information desks or airport/airline employees.
  • Be aware of what can and cannot be carried with your carry-on bags and luggage.

Other information for safe air travel can be found from Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Transportation Security Administration.

Safety tips when traveling by railroad

  • Always stay alert and watch your bags and belongings.
  • Watch your step when boarding and leaving the train and moving from car to car.
  • Never attempt to board or exit a moving train.
  • Make sure you familiarize yourself with the safety card found in most seat backs.Arrive at least 30 minutes before your train is due to depart.
  • Some stations require additional time.Report any suspicious behavior to police, station personnel, Amtrak Police, or by calling 1-800-331-0008.

More information about intercity rail travel safety can be found from Amtrak or the Amtrak Police. The Federal Railroad Administration has information for motorists and pedestrians at railroad crossings.

Safety tips when using public transportation (bus, subway, light rail, commuter rail)

  • Check schedules ahead of time and leave sufficient time to make appropriate connections.
  • Download apps that allow you to check arrival times and pay fares.
  • Always keep jewelry and other valuables out of sight and if your pocket is picked, yell out immediately to warn others. Don’t be afraid to shout. Tell the train or bus operator and request the police.
  • Pay particular attention to your electronics, such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers.
  • Use caution when on rail platforms and at bus drop-offs, especially when surfaces are wet or icy.

Here are some safety tips from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration, which operates Metro bus and rail service in the Washington, D.C. area. Here are anti-theft tips from the Maryland Transit Administration, which operates bus, subway, and light rail service in the Baltimore metro area.

Safety tips for pedestrians

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
  • Always stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again before crossing a street and watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
  • Wear light or bright colored clothing or reflective items, especially before sunrise and after sunset.
  • Pay attention and take off headphones while walking – no texting or playing games.
  • The MDOT State Highway Administration has more safety tips for pedestrians, as does the Federal Highway Administration

Safety tips for cyclists

  • Stop at all red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.
  • Ride with traffic, never against it.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Stay visible when riding at night and during inclement weather.
  • Wear a helmet correctly.

MDOT State Highway Administration has additional bicycle safety tips, as does the Federal Highway Administration.

Safety  tips for traveling on the water

Whether piloting your own recreational boats, or traveling on a passenger vessel (cruise ship or ferry), here are some important safety tips:

  • Check weather forecasts for approaching fronts or storm watches. By the time a storm or gale warning is issued, it might be too late to get to a safe harbor.
  • Never allow passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, or other spots where they might fall overboard.
  • Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at ALL times. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will not shut off.
  • Children under 13 must wear a United States Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device  while underway on a recreational vessel under 21 feet in length.
  • For maximum safety, ALL persons on recreational boats should wear approved Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs).
  • On passenger vessels, follow all safety directions, read prepared safety material, and participate in all life safety drills.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has specific information for recreational boats traveling in Maryland waters, including kayaks and rowboats. The United States Coast Guard also has boater safety information. The Maryland Port Administration has information for people traveling out of the Baltimore cruise ship terminal. The Cruise Critic also has some tips for traveling safely on  cruise ships.

Safety tips for lodging facilities (hotels, motels, resorts, short-term, and vacation rentals)

  • Stay in facilities that have hard-wired smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in each guest room.
  • Read the fire evacuation plan carefully.
  • Find the two closest exits from your room.
  • Count the number of doors between your room and the exits. This will assist you if you need to evacuate in the dark.
  • Find the fire alarms on your floor.
  • If the rental is a vacation or private home, make sure the facility has dead bolt locks on all doors, locking windows, and appropriate fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • If a vacation or private home rental has a swimming pool, make sure someone is observing all swimmers and that proper safety equipment is available.
  • Know the cancellation policy when making a reservation.

You can find additional safety tips for travelers staying at vacation and private home rentals from iPropertyManagement. You can find more hotel/motel safety tips from SmarterTravel.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


Marylanders Urged to Plan, Remain Vigilant as Severe Weather Is Expected Friday Through Sunday

October 28th, 2021

Annapolis Could See Third Biggest Flood in Recorded History

Significant to Major Tidal / Coastal Flooding Expected Along Shores of The Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Potomac River

Gale Warnings for The Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and Atlantic Coast Friday Morning Through Late Friday Night

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (October 28, 2021) — The Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) is urging all Marylanders to monitor weather conditions and ensure they are prepared for severe weather beginning this Friday, October 29 through Sunday, October 31.  The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting a range of hazards to affect Maryland, including heavy rain, coastal and tidal flooding, and gale force winds.

“Now is the time to make sure you are ready for what this storm may bring,” said  Russ Strickland, MDEM’s Secretary. “Have a plan in case you need to leave the area, especially if you have pets. Ensure your emergency supply kit is ready to go, let family and friends know about your plans, have a portable radio to listen to weather updates in the event you lose power, make sure all your devices are charged, and that you have an extra supply of batteries.”

According to the NWS:

  1. Beginning today and lasting through Sunday, significant to major tidal / coastal flooding is expected along shores of the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River.
  2. Heavy rain with widespread amounts of 1-2 inches is also expected. Localized amounts of 3-4 inches and flooding are also possible.
  3. Gale Warnings for the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, and Atlantic Coast Friday morning through late Friday night.
    1. Storm Force Winds for middle and lower portions of Chesapeake Bay and lower Potomac River.
  4. Potentially greatest tidal flooding since Hurricane Isabel in some locations. 
  5. Highest water levels most likely late Friday into early Saturday.

MDEM also reminds Maryland residents and visitors to make sure emergency kits include at least 2 face coverings for each person, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and other COVID-19 related supplies in addition to the usual disaster supply kit components.

Here are some additional considerations while planning for severe weather and other hazards during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Never walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
  • Pay attention to emergency information and alerts from official sources.
  • Determine your best protection for high winds and flooding.
  • Check with local authorities for the latest information about public evacuation shelters.
  • Only use generators outdoors and never in a garage. The generator should be at least 20 feet away from your home and away from windows, doors, and vents.
  • If you must evacuate, bring items such as hand sanitizer, cleaning materials, and two cloth face coverings per person. Children under 2 years old, people who have trouble breathing, and people who cannot take the cloth face covering off without help should not wear cloth face coverings. 

It is also important to allow extra time to evacuate because shelters might be farther away. As always, residents are better off locating shelter with family or friends outside the expected danger zone or staying at an accommodation of their choice. But State, local, and nonprofit partners will still provide shelter options. To receive alerts, tips, and resources related to COVID-19 and other threats and hazards affecting or that may affect Maryland during this hurricane season and beyond, text “MdReady” to 211-MD1.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


MEMA Becomes the Maryland Department of Emergency Management

September 30th, 2021

October 1 Transition Will Allow Greater Efficiency, Flexibility in Emergency Response

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (September 30, 2021) — The Maryland Emergency Management Agency will become the Maryland Department of Emergency Management effective Friday, October 1, 2021. It will be a principal department reporting directly to the Governor’s office, and will have greater flexibility to handle administrative functions, especially during emergencies. As part of this transition, the Maryland 9-1-1 Board will become part of the newly established department.

“These are challenging but exciting times for emergency management and this move better positions us to respond to those challenges,” said Russ Strickland, the current MEMA Executive Director who becomes Acting Secretary of Emergency Management, pending confirmation by the Maryland State Senate in 2022. “The structure of our department will help us meet those challenges more efficiently and give us greater flexibility to serve Marylanders.”

This move is part of a broader trend across the nation where emergency management agencies are moving to report directly to the chief executive in states or local communities. This direct line of communication establishes a link between emergency managers and executives within government, which reduces lag time and improves response and recovery activities. Maryland joins a growing list of states which have elevated their emergency management agencies to principal departments.

The Maryland Department of Emergency Management was enacted during the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan on May 18. The legislation also moved the Emergency Number Systems Board — also known as the Maryland 9-1-1 Board — to the new Department.

Emergency management traces its roots to 1949, when the Maryland Civil Defense Agency was created as part of the Governor’s Office to face the challenges and nuclear hazards of the Cold War. In 1989, MEMA was created as part of the Maryland Military Department to focus on all natural and man-made hazards.

Emergency management staff will still work closely with its former parent agency. The Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force will continue to be important partners in preparation, training, response, and recovery activities.

The department will continue its focus on support for local emergency managers, effective mitigation strategies, coordinating emergency response, and helping the public better prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters.

NOTE: Maryland Department of Emergency Management leadership and communications staff will be available for media interviews to discuss the transition, contact Jorge Castillo or Ed McDonough (contact information below) to arrange an interview.

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CONTACT:
Jorge Castillo, jorge.castillo@maryland.gov, 443-381-3518
Ed McDonough, ed.mcdonough@maryland.gov, 410-446-3333
24/7 line: 877-636-2872


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