Commonwealth Journal

October 29, 2012

SPD officer getting a first-hand look at superstorm Sandy

By HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Pulaski County may see few effects from Superstorm Sandy, which was expected to make landfall on the East Coast in the overnight hours Monday, but one Somerset resident is seeing, first hand, the wallop the massive storm system is expected to carry with it.
Lt. Shannon Smith, with the Somerset Police Department, landed in the coastal city of Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday for a Rural Law Enforcement Technical Institute conference — and for a front-row seat to Sandy’s expected impact.
“We’ve been watching it (coverage of Sandy’s impending landfall) so long it’s all kind of saturated now,” Smith said on Monday.
The storm — which has led many to hunker down in preparation for power outages, coastal flooding and damaging winds — was expected to make landfall just a stone’s throw away from Maryland in southern New Jersey overnight Monday.
Smith said the conference, which was planned months and months ago, will go on thanks to generators and buried utility lines. 
“That reduces the chances of being affected by downed power lines,” Smith said. 
But the closure of many businesses in Maryland and other coastal states was making it difficult for Smith and the some 30 additional officers from rural police departments across the nation to find dinner on Monday. 
“Those winds are picking up right now,” Smith said on Monday. 
Smith said a steady, soaking rain came down in Annapolis much of Monday, and he said winds stayed at around 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.
But that was a whole six hours before expected landfall.
“Oh it’s coming for us,” Smith said.
Smith was initially supposed to fly the police department’s newly-purchased two-seat AutoGyro Calidus from Somerset to Maryland, but he said the low ceiling in Kentucky coupled with a narrow window for arrival time in Maryland thanks to Sandy changed those plans. 
“It (the gyroplane) is still tucked away safe at the airport in Somerset,” Smith said.
Smith said he expected to hunker down at the hotel in Annapolis while the storm blows through, but he said classes for the conference should commence at 8 a.m. today — hurricane or no hurricane. 
“We’ll be in class by candlelight or normal light,” Smith said.