, WASHINGTON, Oct 29 – Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said Monday fatalities are inevitable as Hurricane Sandy bears down on Mid-Atlantic states with all its force.
“Hurricane Sandy is going to come over Maryland, she’s going to sit on top of Maryland and beat down on Maryland for a good 24 to 36 hours,” he told reporters at the Maryland emergency coordination headquarters.
“This is going to be a long haul,” he said. “The days ahead are going to be difficult. There will be people who die and are killed in this storm.”
O’Malley warned of “very high winds” by early Monday afternoon, lengthy power outages in the afternoon and evening, and severe flooding in the countless rivers and streams that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.
He urged motorists to stay off the roads until Tuesday night.
The neighbouring state of Delaware, also squarely in Sandy’s path, banned driving altogether Monday except for emergency vehicles, under a law that could see repeat offenders sent to jail.
“We didn’t want people driving to work and then driving back in dangerous conditions or getting stuck,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell.
By mid-day Monday, more than five inches (13 centimetres) of rain had fallen on the coastal Delaware town of Rehoboth Beach, evacuated since Saturday, while big waves pounded beaches and flooded coastal highways.
On Maryland’s easternmost Atlantic coast, the resort town of Ocean City was being lashed by a combination of wind, rain and “very heavy surf,” with its landmark pier sustaining very heavy damage, O’Malley said.
The mandatory evacuation of downtown Ocean City has been completed, he said, and “there are few if any residents left in the town.”
While the potential for loss of life was “my biggest concern right now,” O’Malley said several days’ warning had given Maryland time to prepare for Sandy’s wrath, with help from reinforcements from other states.
Twenty-three emergency shelters have opened around Maryland for those most in need, he said, but others should “hunker down” and remain indoors with their families until the “monster storm” passes.
“There will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused by the intensity of the storm by the floods by the tidal surge and by the waves. The more responsibly citizens act, the fewer people will die.”