Tropical Storm Isaias: How To Prepare Maryland Homes, Families

·8 min read

MARYLAND — Weather forecasters say Tropical Storm Isaias could drop 3 to 6 inches of rain across Maryland, creating flash floods and power outages. With the Baltimore-Washington area under a tropical storm watch as the National Hurricane Center expects Isaias to regain hurricane status before it reaches the Carolinas, it's time to prepare for potential flooding, evacuations, and winds greater than 39 miles per hour.

Maryland beaches were put under a tropical storm warning Monday morning as the storm nears.

Flash flooding is a major concern, with 3 to 6 inches of rain or more expected to fall between Monday night and Tuesday evening in Maryland. The threat is high along and east of the Interstate 95 corridor. Significant impacts may also occur along and east of the I-81 corridor too.

“Please don’t let your guard down just because Isaias is no longer a hurricane,” said Russ Strickland, Maryland Emergency Management Agency’s Executive Director. “Be prepared for potential power outages, flash floods and tidal flooding. This is still a dangerous system.”

The lower Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland will be the hardest hit areas, with the heavily populated central region also expected to be affected by the storm, MEMA said in a news release. Most Marylanders can expect to feel some effects from Isaias.

Residents should make sure emergency kits include at least two face coverings for each person, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and other COVID-19 related supplies in addition to the usual disaster supply kit components, the agency said.

Residents should know if they 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 see if you might be in an evacuation zone, click here.

The state's evacuation zone program includes Annapolis, the city of Baltimore City and Ocean City, plus Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Prince George's counties, among other counties.

Include face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants in a go-bag to prevent the spread of the coronavirus if you are evacuated. Also, make sure you include:

  • Medications, copy of medical records & prescriptions

  • Soap, toothbrush & toothpaste

  • Clothes

  • Bedding

  • Identification

  • Cash

  • Birth & marriage certificates

  • Documents that prove where you live

  • List of emergency contacts

  • Insurance policies

  • Pet supplies

The expected heavy rains and wind may damage porches, awnings, carports, sheds, and unanchored mobile homes. Unsecured lightweight objects may be blown about; residents should bring unsecured items indoors if possible.

Many large tree limbs are likely to break, some trees may snap or be uprooted. Some fences and roadway signs could be blown over.

Hazardous driving conditions are expected on bridges and other elevated roadways.

Here are things to consider while planning for the storm:

  • Keep devices charged in case of possible power outages.

  • Know who to contact if you lose power. A list of contact information for power utilities in Maryland can be found here.

  • Unless you live in an evacuation zone, make a plan to shelter-in-place in your home, if it is safe to do so.

  • 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.

  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.

Patch is tracking every move of Tropical Storm Isaias. Get all the updates on the storm by subscribing to Patch's free breaking news alerts and daily newsletters.

Here are things you should do before the tropical storm arrives in the region.

  • Complete a family communication plan. Plan how you will assemble your family and loved ones and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Get together with your family and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency and identify meeting locations.

  • Check your insurance coverage. Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. Review your policy, ensure you're adequately covered and understand exclusions, and contact your agent for any changes.

  • Develop an Evacuation Plan. Find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if your home is unfit to keep you safe in a hurricane. Speak with family and friends and work out a plan to use their home as an evacuation destination. Be sure to account for pets, since many shelters do not allow them.

  • Download the FEMA app. Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. To search for open shelters (for disaster survivors): text SHELTER and ###strong to 43362 (4FEMA).

  • Register with American Red Cross's Safe & Well site to let family and friends know you're OK.

Power Outages

With the potential for power outages, it's time prepare or update household emergency kits. Ensure you have flashlights, batteries, and other items to endure periods without power.

  • Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the door only when necessary and close quickly. Frozen food in a half-full freezer should remain safe for up to 24 hours, and in a full freezer, up to 48 hours.

  • During a power outage use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns for light. Avoid using candles which pose a fire risk.

  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as personal cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill a bathtub or other large container with the water. This is particularly important for those whose water runs off of an electrical system.

Important Maryland Utility Numbers Include:

  • PEPCO: 1-877-737-2662

  • Baltimore Gas and Electric (BG&E): 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123

  • First Energy/Potomac Edison: 1-888-544-4877

  • SMECO: 1-877-747-6326 or 1-888-440-3311

  • Washington Gas: 1-800-752-7520

  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission: 1-800-828-4002

Make a To-Go Kit

  • Clothes and sturdy shoes that are appropriate for the weather

  • Cash in small bills

  • Snacks and water

  • Small first aid kit

  • Hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine products, etc.)

  • Eyeglasses

  • Contacts and contact solution

  • Communication devices/equipment

  • Favorite personal or comfort items

  • Cell phone and chargers

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Contact information for your household members and members of your support network

  • Important documents in a waterproof bag or container (Insurance cards, Medicaid/Medicare cards, photo IDs, proof of address, marriage certificate, birth certificates, copies of credit or debit cards.)

  • Jumper cables for vehicles

Gather Supplies to Shelter in Place

  • Water (1 gallon of water per person per day for 3 days)

  • Nonperishable food (3-day supply)

  • Manual can opener

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Radio and extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Whistle or bell to signal for help

  • Paper and pencil/pen

  • Pair of heavy gloves

  • Dust mask

  • Prescription medications, at least a 3 day supply (as well as a list of what you take, why you take them, and their dosage)

  • Non-prescription medications, such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives

  • Medical supplies (Oxygen, medication, scooter battery, hearing aid and batteries, mobility aids, glasses, etc.)

  • Infant formula/babyfood, bottles, diapers, wipes

  • Entertainment - books, toys, puzzles for children

  • Supplies for service animals or pets (food, water, medicine, leash, collar, harness, veterinary info)

  • Sleeping bag or blankets

  • Kitty litter or sand for vehicles

Make Copies of Documents, Prepare Electronic Contacts

  • Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or in the cloud.

    • Capture electronic versions of important documents such as insurance policies, identification documents, and medical records. Don't forget to include your pet's information.

    • Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents.

    • Scan old photos to protect them from loss.

    • Keep your contacts updated and synced across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group listserv of your top contacts.

    • Create a group chat via a texting app or a thread for family/friends/coworkers to communicate quickly during a disaster.

  • Sign up for Direct Deposit and electronic banking through your financial institution so you can access your payroll funds and make electronic payments wherever you are. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at

Find more tips and advice on the federal government's website.

Prepare Your Home

  • Bring loose, lightweight objects such as patio furniture, garbage cans and bicycles inside.

  • Anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., gas grills and propane tanks).

  • Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs close enough to fall on structures.

  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.

  • Purchase a portable generator or install a whole-house generator for use during power outages.

  • Keep alternative power sources, such as a portable generator, outside, at least 20 feet away from the house, and protected from moisture.

  • Document the condition of your home prior to the storm.

For more information about hurricane preparedness, visit MEMA, FEMA, the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross.


This article originally appeared on the Annapolis Patch

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