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Blizzard of ’16 Approaches, MoCo Reacts

January 22, 2016

 Here is a rundown of when County services will end in Montgomery County as the area prepares for the Blizzard of ’16.

    Pursuant to section 15-6 of the Montgomery County Personnel Regulations, and in light of the forecast blizzard, County Executive Ike Leggett is declaring a general emergency, effective from noon today, January 22, 2016, until midnight Sunday, January 24. All County facilities will be closed during that period, excepting public safety facilities. Essential personnel must still report to work at their regularly scheduled times. The period of general emergency may be extended depending on conditions. 
   Due to the revised NWS forecast now calling for an earlier onset of the snow, Montgomery County government will close at noon today, January 22.

    The predicted earlier onset of snow has caused the following:

   MC311, Montgomery County’s informational phone center opened at 6 a.m. today and will remain open 24-hours-a-day through the storm and recovery period. Call MC311 at 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. Email at www.mc311.com.

   County facilities, other than public safety, will close at noon today.

   All Montgomery County Recreation programs, activities and facilities are closed or canceled from noon Friday, January 22 through Sunday, January 24. Updates will be made at a later time regarding operations on Monday, January 25.  

   Ride On bus service will cease operating at 7 p.m. today and will not operate through the weekend.

    Parking is free in County garages and parking lots beginning at noon today through at least Monday, January 25 at 9:00 am.

   All County provided recycling and refuse collections will cease at noon and the Transfer Station will close. No decision has been made at this time as to when collections will resume, or on what schedule.

   All community use activities in schools will be canceled at noon on Friday and will remain canceled Saturday, January 23 and Sunday, January 24.

   The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center will not be open to the public today through Sunday, January 24. Officers remain on duty to respond to animal emergencies.

   Montgomery County Department of Permitting Service has suspended all inspections today; eServices are expected to be unavailable over the weekend.

   All County retail liquor stores will close at 3:00 pm today and remain closed through the weekend.

   The County has declared a snow emergency to go into effect at 3:00 pm today requiring snow tires or chains on all vehicles traveling on a roadway and enforcement of no parking on identified snow emergency routes.

   Community members are encouraged to sign up for Alert Montgomery, the County’s free emergency warning system at https://alertmontgomerycountymd.gov to receive vital emergency updates.

   Ensure your cell phones, laptops, iPad, tablets and other important devices are fully charged BEFORE the storm.

   If possible, stay off the roads and heed the advice of local officials. Overall, most winter storm deaths result from vehicle or other transportation accidents caused by ice and snow. Residents should avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow, dense fog and high winds. These are serious conditions that are often underestimated and can make driving, and even walking, very hazardous.

   Stay prepared by getting your emergency preparedness kit out and having a ready supply of essential items (food, water, batteries, flashlights, battery-operated radio, blankets, etc.).

   Use extreme caution around downed or damaged power lines. Do not remove fallen tree limbs or other debris from power lines, never drive over down lines and treat all wires – even those that are hanging or down – as if they are “live” (energized) and call 911 to report them.

   Do NOT use candles for lighting. Using candles during a power outage poses an extreme risk of fire. Use flashlights or battery-powered lighting options and make sure you have a battery-operated radio to keep up-to-date.

   Fire and Rescue response times may be affected by the extreme weather. It’s a great time to make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are fresh. Test all smoke alarms to ensure they are working. Reach out to your neighbors who may need help, especially those that are elderly, disabled or infirmed.

   Please only call 911 for emergencies. Crews will be in high demand throughout the storm. If you do not have a life-threatening emergency, call 311 for assistance.

   Pedestrians should wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see them, especially in times of poor visibility. Use reflective clothing or stickers for maximum visibility.

   Shoveling snow can be dangerous to your health. Some winter storms produce enough snow that will make it difficult to shovel, especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50. Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts and take frequent breaks. Listen to your body and STOP if you feel pain or experience any warning signs of a heart attack. Symptoms of a heart attack may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, nausea as well as shoulder, neck and arm pain. Always seek medical attention immediately if you believe you are having a medical emergency.

   Fire Chief Scott Goldstein is asking residents to, if you are safely and physically able to do so, help firefighters and clear snow away from fire hydrants. The expected snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads may result in many fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. By keeping fire hydrants clear of snow, residents can help firefighters to easily locate hydrants and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures.

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