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October 31, 2012

Buried in Sandy - Garrett struggles to dig out

MCHENRY — Thousands of Potomac Edison customers remained without electrical service throughout Garrett County, where up to 30 inches of snow has fallen in the last two days.

Countywide efforts to remove downed trees and power lines continued without letup Wednesday, but officials were not certain how soon things would return to normalcy in the state’s westernmost county.

As of 9 p.m., more than 15,000 customers remained without power in Garrett County.

County government offices were closed again Wednesday and county’s public schools were closed for the re-mainder of the week by the Board of Education.

Nearly 100 residents of the Dennett Road Manor Nursing Home were returned to that facility at about 9 p.m., Tuesday when electrical service was restored there. The residents were evacuated Tuesday morning to the Southern Garrett Rescue Squad when emergency generators of the Oakland nursing home malfunctioned. Repeated attempts by the Times-News to contact the nursing home Wednesday were unsuccessful.

As for travel conditions, Maryland State Police said the snow emergency plan for Interstate 68 in Garrett County was lifted at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The snow emergency plan remained in effect for the rest of the county.

“If you don’t have to, don’t travel. It’s still somewhat of a mess on the back roads,” said Sgt. Brian Broadwater, officer at the state police barrack in McHenry.

“Trees are being removed but then other ones are falling down. It’s still snowing. We need the weather to improve, first and foremost. It’s going to take time. We have no indication yet how soon things will get straightened up,” said Broadwater.  

State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar urged residents to stay off the roads.

“Travel is still difficult on local roadways in Garrett County and we are urging caution if you must travel. But if you don’t have to go out, stay home. High winds and heavy wet snow are continuing. U.S. Route 219 is closed both ways north of Glendale Road and on 219 southbound past Cash Valley Road,” said Gischlar.

The SHA also urged motorists to keep gasoline tanks full and make certain that headlights working to help cope with hazardous road conditions and poor visibility throughout the county.

The SHA also urged motorists to check on road conditions before leaving for their destinations.

For the latest highway traffic information, know before you go and call 511 (1-855-GOMD511) or visit www.md511.org or www.traffic.maryland.gov.   

For Maryland Emergency Management Agency information, go to www.mema. state.md.us.

In Allegany County, the 911 center reported storm-related calls continued to trickle into the emergency agency Wednesday afternoon. “We also received a couple flooded basement calls,” said a 911 dispatcher.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com

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