Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Manno's Snow Stories

Delegate Roger Manno (D-19) sent the following email to his constituents discussing his experiences with the storm.

Dear neighbors:

I hope you are receiving this email -- because if you are, it means you've got power.

For an update on Montgomery County's efforts to restore power, plow roads, or for emergency shelter information, click here.

This weekend's storm devastated our region and challenged government, families and communities to pull together to get through it.While there were many problems communicating, I'd like to thank many of you, and many on our County Council and in State and County government, who communicated with us via email and text messages throughout the storm.

Like thousands of our residents, our power went out Saturday afternoon, and didn't come back on until late Monday. It was cold.

Like so many of you, we had our share of challenges these last few days. Our community is on an unplanned "neighborhood" back-road near Layhill Road and Norbeck Road in Silver Spring, just bordering Sandy Spring and Olney. We’re fairly set back off of main roads, so we usually get plowed very late in a storm. As a result, I spent three days with my neighbors Chris and Steve, digging out our street and the several houses around us -- whatever we could get to. On Sunday, it took us about 4 hours to dig out one neighbor, who also had no heat or electricity, and is recovering from knee replacement surgery.

Also on Sunday morning, one of my neighbors, a contractor, trekked through 2-3 feet of snow to the closest plowed road, were he was picked up and driven several miles to his "Bobcat" earth-moving vehicle. When he returned to our neighborhood very late Sunday night, the Bobcat's headlights in the distance were a welcomed sight -- and he spent the next several hours plowing the back roads in area, well before any government road crews could get there. We are all so grateful -- and his handiwork also allowed access of Pepco's contractors, who eventually restored power.

Once power was restored on Monday afternoon, I headed out to Annapolis, as the General Assembly convened again Tuesday morning.

Despite the recovery in many communities, some are still without power and/or have not yet been plowed as we begin Round Two of the storm. A few things to consider, based on guidance from Pepco:

• If your household includes small children, elderly or frail persons or someone with serious health issues, consider taking shelter somewhere warm—stay with relatives or friends, or go to a hotel. If a member of your household is dependent on electrical medical devices for their well-being, plan to relocate that person to a place of safety that has uninterruptible power. If possible, take action before the storm gains momentum.

• Prepare an emergency kit for you and your household - including pets. Make sure it includes:
o Flashlights; fresh batteries; a battery-powered radio and/or television set; and a battery-powered clock.
o A three-day supply of nonperishable food, along with a hand-operated can opener.
o Three gallons of drinking water per person - and per pet.
o Extra tap water for flushing and washing if you rely on well water.
o Extra blankets and sleeping bags in case you lose heat.
o A first-aid kit and extra prescription drugs.
o A telephone with a cord (that plugs into the wall) or a fully charged cell phone to use for emergency calls. Cordless land-line phones will not work when power is out.

Safety Guidelines

Electrical Safety - The storm has brought down power lines across our territory. Assume that all power lines and electrical equipment are “live.”

· Stay away from downed power lines and call 1-877-737-2662 to report downed wires to Pepco. Stay away from standing water, and make sure children and pets are kept safely away.

· Turn off electric appliances and lights; leave one light on so you know when power has been restored.

· Do not attempt to move downed or damaged power lines with branches, boards, etc.

· Clear snow away from appliance intake and exhaust vents to maintain proper airflow ventilation. Blowing and drifting snow can clog such vents and create a fire hazard.

Generators, Fireplaces and Grills

• If you use a generator to supply backup power, operate it safely. Do not operate indoors, in a garage or near doors or windows to avoid exposure to deadly carbon monoxide.

• If possible, appliances should be connected directly to small portable generators by an extension cord rather than through home wiring. Customers should consult the generator’s instruction manual for proper installation, operation and maintenance. The installation should be inspected by a qualified electrician.

• Do not burn charcoal indoors, even if you have a fireplace. Burning charcoal indoors can expose you to deadly carbon monoxide.

• If you use a grill, use it outside. If you use a fireplace, burn only the fuel it was designed for.

Candles and Portable Gas or Kerosene Heaters

• Candles can be hazardous and even deadly if not used properly; Pepco does not recommend the use of candles. Portable fuel-burning heaters pose the same dangers as candles.

• Use a battery-powered flashlight, lantern or other device if your lights go out.

• If you do use candles, keep them away from flammable items such as curtains, clothing, papers or other potentially flammable material.

• If you use portable heaters, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the same safety precautions as for candles. In addition, ensure adequate ventilation of any room where such heaters are in operation.

• Never leave candles or heaters unattended - especially around children or pets - and extinguish them carefully before leaving the room.

Food Safety

· Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed; open them only when absolutely necessary. Food will stay frozen for 36-48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed.

· A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.

· More information on keeping food safe is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site:

If my office can be of any assistance, please call us at 301-858-3883. If we are unable to answer due to government closings, power outage, or otherwise, please feel free to contact me directly on my cell phone at 202-425-3523.

Please be cautious, and stay safe.

Roger Manno