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Wheels start turning again in Baltimore

The region escapes the worst of Sandy with less wind and rainfall than predicted. A close call – rising water in the Inner Harbor.

biking thru water Harborplace

A bicyclist rolls through the surge of water that collected on the promenade below the Harborplace pavilions today.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Baltimore is getting back to work in the aftermath of a less-severe-than-predicted Sandy.

There are lots of flooded basements to clean – and scattered power outages in the region – but the city escaped the brunt of the “superstorm” and suffered little of the devastating property damage forecast as the storm focused its fury on the New York-New Jersey area.

Restrictions on car travel in Baltimore have been lifted, and limited bus and Metro subway service is being restored this afternoon by the Maryland Transit Administration.

With less rain (6.4 inches in the Inner Harbor) and lower winds (averaging 40 mph) than forecast, the city received reports of 230 downed trees.

Reginald Coates monitors traffic signals from the city's Emergency Operations Center today. Only 17 traffic signals were out of service this morning due to the hurricane. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Reginald Coates monitors traffic signals at the city’s Emergency Operations Center today. Only 17 traffic signals were out of service this morning due to the post-tropical cyclone named Sandy. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

City crews are currently removing the trees and other debris.

At present, about 13,000 city customers are without power – again, far fewer than predicted – with 40,000 outages reported in Baltimore County this morning.

Water Reaches Steps of Harborplace

Baltimore also largely escaped the flooding feared in harborfront communities.

Water rose to within 18 inches of breaching the piers along Thames Street – but no higher – making the sandbagging that preoccupied Fells Point residents over the weekend an exercise in physical fitness and civic virtue.

The Water Taxi dock and several hundred feet of the Harborplace promenade were inundated with water today. The Pratt Street Pavilion and World Trade Center are in the background. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

The Water Taxi dock and several hundred feet of the Harborplace promenade were inundated with water today. The Pratt Street Pavilion and World Trade Center are in the background. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

The biggest inflow ended up in the Inner Harbor where murky wavelets lapped the bottom steps of the Harborplace Pavilions on Pratt and Light streets and flooded parts of the lower promenade and Water Taxi dock.

With no additional surge forecast, the minor flooding marked a close call for General Growth Properties and the just-announced buyer of Harborplace, Ashkenazy Acquisition of New York.

Along East Pratt Street, the Power Plant and National Aquarium also experienced a harbor rising up to within inches of the top of the protective piers.

Air and Rail Service Suspended

The 1700 block of Thames Street – without cars! The city's restriction on parked cars in lower Fells Point was lifted this afternoon. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Thames Street without cars! The city’s restriction on parked cars in lower Fells Point was lifted this afternoon. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

There are still major gaps in the region’s transportation system.

Most flights have been canceled today at Thurgood Marshall BWI, including all traffic to hard-hit New York and Boston.

Amtrak’s entire Northeast Corridor is out of service. The rail carrier said it will announce whether limited service will be restored tomorrow as crews inspect tracks and tunnels for damage, especially north of Philadelphia.

MARC commuter service remains closed today, with an announcement expected soon on service restoration. Baltimore’s light rail will open tomorrow.

At a news briefing at the city’s Emergency Operations Center on North Calvert Street, Mayor Stephanie Rawlngs-Blake said all city offices will reopen tomorrow.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake briefs the press on the hurricane's aftermath with her command staff, including new police commissioner, Batts, to her left. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Mayor Rawlings-Blake today with her emergency command staff. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts is to her right. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

She said that there were minimal police, fire and medic incidents during the storm and only a handful of streets (“the usual suspects”) flooded.

The Charm City Circulator will resume service tomorrow – and trash service, suspended today, will resume on Saturday.

The mayor called on residents to “be patient” as services are restored and cautioned the public not to walk or drive through standing water because of the possibility of downed power lines or other hazards.

Early voting – suspended yesterday and today – will resume tomorrow and continue through Friday (Nov. 2) with extended hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Gov. Martin O’Malley announced today.

Additionally, O’Malley has extended the deadline for absentee ballot applications received by fax or email until tomorrow (Wed.) at 11:59 p.m. Applications should be sent to local election boards.

A downed tree on the 2300 block of St. Paul Street shattered the windshield of this car. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

A downed tree shattered the windshield of this car on the 2200 block of St. Paul Street. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

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