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After Sandy, Flooding Concerns Remain

Water was within inches of the Georgetown boardwalk Tuesday morning, and debris was floating just about everywhere. Flood concerns persist in low-lying areas.
Patrick Madden
Water was within inches of the Georgetown boardwalk Tuesday morning, and debris was floating just about everywhere. Flood concerns persist in low-lying areas.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy will continue to be felt up and down the Eastern Seaboard this week, as people from the Appalachians to New York City cope with the myriad effects of the colossal and nearly unprecedented storm.

In the D.C. area, as cleanup continues, there remain two primary areas of interest: flooding in the Potomac and other waterways and the restoration of power.

Officials continue to monitor water levels in the Potomac, and stand ready to react to any new developments as flood waters linger and tides continue to threaten low-lying areas. Officials with DC Water stress that persistent problems in areas like Bloomingdale D.C. have not gone away, but say merely that the rain did not fall hard enough and fast enough to cause the kind of flooding often seen during summer rains.

As for power, crews around the area are working around the clock with the help of technicians from around the country to restore get people back on the grid. Chuck Penn with Dominion Power says those under his company's umbrella with electricity, some 48,000 at this time, can expect power to return by the end of Thursday. Pepco and BGE have also pegged the end of the week as a timetable to have at least 90 percent of customers restored.

WAMU will continue to cover the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but starting tomorrow, our web coverage will return to its normal format.

5:44 p.m.: Ed McDonough from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency spoke with host Pat Brogan this evening about how his state has fared as the waters begin to recede. He emphasized first of all that the area isn't totally out of the woods in terms of damage.

"We still have a few issues," says McDonough. "We have another high tide cycle along the Chesapeake Bay, so people who live in coastal communities there are still concerned."

McDonough says the rain totals up near Baltimore and Annapolis were very minor, not even coming close to the totals the area had seen in past storms

While staying dry has been the principle concern of residents in most of WAMU's listening area, McDonough says the blast of snow in the western part of the state far exceeded their expectations.

"I think the amount of snow that we saw in western Maryland is surprising," he says. "We were hearing that in some parts of the Appalachians it would be three feet, but we were hearing more like 8 inches to a foot in Garrett County, and they've gotten hit by two feet of wet, heavy, hard-to-move snow."

Maryland came away having suffered only three deaths directly-related to Sandy, largely because people heeded the warnings to stay indoors.

As a parting note, McDonough says that while tens of thousands remain without power in the area, generators need to continue to be used safely — far from homes where carbon monoxide can't seep into living areas.

4:45 p.m.: The effects of Sandy continue to linger in the D.C. area. BWI, Reagan and Dulles airports are operating with limited service.

Low-lying monuments on and near the National Mall are reported to be in good shape. Officials from the National Park Service say that, even with a lingering threat of flooding from the Potomac River, they don't expect any damage.

One area that is still off-limits is the Little Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County. A power outage there caused an overflow of as much as two million gallons of wastewater during Sandy. Residents are warned not to have any contact with the river, and if they do, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.

We'll keep this running story updated, as the threat of flooding from the Potomac River lingers.

3:25 p.m.: Early voting is back in the region as Sandy continues northward.  Gov. Martin O'Malley says Maryland will resume early voting tomorrow, with polls open between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. In addition, they'll be extending early voting through Friday to make up for lost days. At the press conference just minutes ago, Mayor Gray said early voting would resume in D.C. as well.

As reported yesterday, officials in Virginia have said that voters can use Hurricane Sandy as a reason for voting early. Typically, they have to have a good reason for casting ballots early, such as being absent from the state.

Away from the polls, the area Red Cross is asking for people to donate blood to help make up for the shortfall caused by canceled events, thanks to Sandy. The loss of like from Sandy was small in our area, but hospitals still require a steady supply.

2:15 p.m.: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray praised the President for his leadership during the crisis during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He also had kind words for the District's Department of Public Works, which he credits for helping keep low-lying areas like the Bloomingdale neighborhood from being inundated with flood water.

To the disappointment of students in the area, Mayor Gray also said that D.C. Public Schools would be reopened on Wednesday.

They'll be joined by students in Montgomery County. County Exec Isiah Leggett says things will begin to get back to normal in the area, as they close up their emergency operations center this evening and schools and government offices will reopen on Wednesday. Halloween activities like trick or treating should go on without incident.

The County's Urban Search and Rescue team is in the Rockaway area of Queens in  New York City, helping in the efforts there, where Sandy struck much more fiercely on Tuesday night.

1:22 p.m.: There's progress being made as the D.C. region attempts to get back to normal. Pepco is still reporting 13,846 customers without power, down from twice that number last night; Dominion is working on restoring the lights for 82,905 homes and businesses, most of which are in the Northern Virginia area; BGE reports 176,142 customers still out of power; Delmarva's numbers clock at 44,500.

One thing moving back to status quo is the Metro, which will reopen shortly at 2 p.m. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told reporter Martin Di Caro the transit organization sustained minimal damage from Sandy. He did caution, however, that it may take an additional 30 minutes for Metro trains to actually circulate through the system, which combined with a Sunday service schedule, may make for some longer waits than normal today.

Our coastal reporter Bryan Russo was on the Kojo Show lot long ago. He reports that Ocean City, Md. officials have reopened the entirety of the coastal highway, including 17th St. to North Division St. and the Rt. 50 bridge.

11:22 a.m.: The DC Circulator buses will also resume service at 2 p.m. today. Capital Bikeshare will reopen at 1 p.m., but the company behind the bike sharing service won't start rebalancing bikes to various stations until 4 p.m. 

At Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport, flights are not expected to begin arriving until 1:30 p.m., according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. But flights will probably continue to be cancelled or delayed due to ongoing problems at other Northeast airports. The airports administration is urging people to check with their airlines for flight status ahead of time.

11:00 a.m.: On the Delmarva peninsula, flood waters are receding and government officials are still trying to determine when it will be safe to allow those who were evacuated to return to their homes, reports WAMU coastal reporter Bryan Russo.

Flooding is still a concern, although some areas are already drying out. The city of Salisbury, Md. is expected to lift its state of emergency today and Delaware state police are no longer issuing tickets to those driving on the roads. There is still a Level 1 road emergency in effect in the state, however, which means drivers should use extreme caution and common sense.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is open in both directions, as is the 1-95 Millard Tydings bridge. Both were closed yesterday due to high winds.

9:15 a.m.: Metro will resume rail and bus service on a Sunday schedule today at 2 p.m., WMATA reports. Certain bus routes that do not run on Sundays will resume a regular weekday schedule. 

8:30 a.m. Officials are closely watching the water levels in low-lying areas of Alexandria, Va. as the Potomac nears its next high tide shortly after 9 a.m. There has already been mandatory evacuation in certain areas prone to flooding, including Arlington Terrace, Fenwick Drive in Huntington and the Belle View neighborhood of Alexandria. 

Metro is doing an assessment of all the tracks and tunnels today to determine when Metrorail service can be restarted, WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel tells WAMU. While there was some water infiltration to the system, there was no significant flooding, Stessel says. Power outages were contained to individual stations, he adds.

Original: The powerful winds brought by Hurricane Sandy have slowed down, and the D.C. region is still waking up and assessing the impacts of the powerful Hurricane that swept through the region yesterday.

In the DC. area, Metro rail and bus services are still not running this morning, although the agency plans to announce a time line for restoring service by noon today, officials say. Metroaccess bus service will be closed all day.

The federal government, the D.C. government and many other local governments throughout the region are still closed today, as are most of the region's schools. 

Officials are now watching the tidal areas of the region carefully as water rise toward high tide at 9 a.m. Flooding in low-lying areas has already closed roads in many areas, and the Potomac is rising quickly this morning. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power this morning, with the most outages being in Maryland in areas served by electric utility BGE. Pepco has about 25,000 people without power as of 7 a.m., and the company is hoping to have most of those customers restored in the next couple of days, spokesman Clay Anderson told WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey earlier today. 

Dominion Virginia Power has more customers with outages — more than 100,000 as of 7 a.m. today — and that company held off on giving restoration time lines early this morning. 

Many roads are still affected by both flooding and downed trees throughout the region. In Montgomery County, Beach Drive, Sligo Creek Parkway, Colesville Road and Route 355 and Bradley Boulevard all have some closuse in certain sections due to high standing water. 

In Northern Virginia, parts of the Fairfax County Parkway, Georgetown Pike and George Washington Parkway are closed.


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