The call from Mayor Vincent Gray’s office was quick and to the point. “We are at RFK Stadium where we have given out over 9,000 sand bags to DC residents in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. We are asking DC residents to clean out their storm drains, clean away leaves and clutter and to get ready for this storm. Please alert city residents to take this storm seriously,” the city worker said.
As of this moment 22 people have lost their lives because of this storm. People packed into grocery stores and the Home Depot on Saturday October 27th, 2012, in preparation for the storm. “Meteorologists are sounding increasingly dire warnings about the magnitude and historic nature of this combined storm, and the District is preparing in earnest. We are working hard to ensure that we minimize any of this storm’s negative effects in the District,” Gray said.
City Administrator Allen Y. Lew outlined what is being done now in preparation for the storm:
• DC Water Department workers are clearing storm drains citywide.
• DPW distributed over 9,000 sandbags until 6 pm yesterday at RFK Stadium, Lot 7.
• The DC Department of Transportation is assigning staff and contractors to be ready to collect storm debris starting tomorrow, Monday October 29, 2012, with the assistance of DPW workers.
• DPW tow trucks will be deployed as necessary to remove vehicles that are blocking roadways.
• DDOT has generators in place at major intersections in case power is disrupted. DDOT traffic control officers will be deployed to direct traffic where necessary.
• DPW is postponing Monday’s bulk garbage collections and notifying residents of the new day. Residents are to bag their leaves so they don’t collect in the storm drains and cause flooding.
In speaking to one DC resident, who asked not to be identified, the sentiment expressed has been heard before and could cost lives if not corrected, “We have heard these warnings before. They said it was going to hit and it didn’t. The news media is hyping this for ratings.” the resident said. Mayor Gray’s office and staff are public servants. City employees are sworn to the promise to serve the public. These warnings have nothing to do with ratings. These warnings are meant to save lives.
DC residents can go to the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management website at to get information and advice on how to weather the storm. Listen to radio station WTOP to get updates on the storm. “To stay ahead of the storm, download the WTOP app. You can listen live to WTOP from any phone at 202-380-9977,” WTOP said. Topper Shutt, the chief meteorologist for WUSA, always gives good weather reports and he tracks the storm to let residents know the severity of the hurricane.
Pepco made public service calls to all of its DC customers with the following recorded message, “This is Pepco calling with a special message. We are closing monitoring the approach of Hurricane Sandy, which may strike our service territory in the next few days. Several days of extreme winds and heavy rains could cause extended power outages. We are preparing and we are encouraging our customers to prepare as well. Remember never go near down power lines and stay clear of working crews. To report outages call 1-877-737-2662 0r visit Pepco.com. Thank you,” Pepco said.
The storm will cause broken and hanging tree branches. Residents should report downed trees by calling 311. Pepco reminds residents to stay away from downed wires. Remember report downed wires to Pepco by calling 1-877-737-2662. DC residents should call DC Water at 202-612-3400.
Having covered blackouts and power outages as a paid print news reporter since 1978, the present writer warns all readers not to take these warnings lightly. Stay indoors, keep flashlights handy. Hilary Howard of WTOP warns residents of the dangers of burning candles. Howard encouraged listeners to use flashlights as they are safer. If DC residents must drive, and it is not recommended to drive during a storm, do not drive through standing puddles of water. Watch services online if possible. Updates will follow as long as power is available. Remember the Derecho storm of 2012. It was quick, fast, and dangerous. Hurricane Sandy will also cause a dangerous storm.