Less than a week after the combination of a hurricane, a stalled high pressure system to the east, and an oncoming winter weather system to the west created what some were dubbing a “Perfect Storm,” Columbia Association’s (CA) recovery efforts will nearly be complete.
Columbia, Howard County and much of Central Maryland proved to be extremely fortunate when it came to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, which particularly devastated parts of New Jersey and New York and has left many residents of those states without electricity and some without homes.
In Columbia, however, the damage left behind proved to be far, far less than that caused four months ago by the derecho, according to Sean Harbaugh, assistant director of CA’s Open Space Management Division.
“We were hit so much lighter than we expected,” Harbaugh said on Thursday morning, barely two days removed from when the brunt of the storm had moved out of the region.
Most of CA’s 93.5-mile pathway system, as well as sidewalks at its facilities and parks, will be cleared of debris — be it large branches or leaves and small twigs — by the end of Friday, Harbaugh said. Much of the debris has been moved to the side of the walkways.
“My hope is that we will have opened up 90 percent of the pathways by this weekend,” he said. “As with most storms, there are going to be a couple of issues that will take a bit longer for a variety of reasons.”
A couple dozen large trees came down in areas of CA’s open space where people go. In places where large debris remains, CA has either made those areas passable or has cordoned them off until they can be made safe for pedestrians. To report a downed or dangerous tree on CA’s open space, call 410-312-6330 or email Open.Space@ColumbiaAssociation.org.
Meanwhile, the rising waters of Lake Kittamaqundi in downtown Columbia did temporarily submerge the boardwalk there. The section of the boardwalk leading to where the bell tower once stood had already been closed due to a reconstruction project, which remains on schedule. The remaining boardwalk sections, particularly the L-shaped section that runs parallel to the restaurants, will be pressure washed, according to Harbaugh.
Some CA facilities reopened Tuesday. The rest reopened Wednesday.
Next week, CA Today will spotlight how Columbia Association planned for and then responded to Hurricane Sandy, and how crews worked to get the facilities and pathways reopened safely and as soon as possible.