The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Community News Network

October 26, 2012

East Coast prepares for wrath of Sandy

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

"This is the benefit of having the time to prepare," said Scott Peterson, spokesman for Prince George's. "At this point, we have all hands on deck."

Peterson said that there was major flooding in the county during Tropical Storm Lee last year.

Also preparing for a shock were mass-transit systems and airports, and airlines recognized that they were facing a situation that could snarl aviation for days after the storm had passed.

The three major commuter systems — Metro, the Maryland Transportation Administration and Virginia Railway Express — plan to continue normal operations until conditions require otherwise. "If conditions really deteriorate on Sunday, we may change that, but at this point, we're proceeding," Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. The transit agency began placing sandbags around vent shafts and station entrances of the subway system. Crews had also begun checking pumping stations that will funnel water out of the stations, ensuring that drains were clear and that enough chain saws were available if there were downed trees. Also, additional rail and bus supervisors are being called in to work at control centers.

The Maryland Transit Administration began mobilizing emergency operations and maintenance workers, said spokesman Joe Sviatko. "As long as it's safe, the goal is to keep everything open that we can during our normal operational hours," Sviatko said. The agency has additional diesel trains available for MARC's Penn Line, which typically uses electric trains, to try to ensure that there is MARC service Monday. MTA officials will assess the storm's path Sunday afternoon to determine the extent of service available on the system's buses, trains and light-rail system.

VRE is planning full service on Monday, barring any major weather-related problems. "Right now, we're preparing as if we will run service like we have before," said Mark Roeber, a spokesman.

VRE would likely cancel Monday service if the Office of Personnel Management announces that the federal government is closed, he said. Flooding or debris on the tracks could also snarl or cancel some VRE service.

- - -

Jeremy Borden, Emma Brown, Lynh Bui, Aaron C. Davis, Caitlin Gibson, Miranda S. Spivack, Nikita Stewart, Susan Svrluga, Candace Wheeler, Ovetta Wiggins and Victor Zapana contributed to this report.

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