First responders were well prepared for Winter Storm Riley

Hollywood, MD- On Friday, March 2 a large nor’easter, Winter Storm Riley, moved through the mid-Atlantic leaving a path of destruction. While many of us didn’t experience snow or rain, which is often typical with these storms, the region did see strong winds for more than 24 hours—some gusts were in excess of 80 miles per hour.

In St. Mary’s County, during a 24-hour period, from early Friday morning into Saturday morning, there were 550 emergency calls. Many of the calls were in relation to downed trees and power lines but there were several calls for house fires and road closures as well.

The response from St. Mary’s County volunteers, along with the Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO), Maryland State Police (MSP) and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), was well coordinated and handled quickly.

Rob Wahrenbrock, chief of Bay District Volunteer Fire Department in Lexington Park, told that both departments, Stations 3 and 9, were fully staffed during the weather event. “It’s what we do and they know it’s going to be busy.”

Wahrenbrock said when the volunteers arrived for the day, they knew they were there for the long haul. “Our volunteers come in for the duration of the event. They’re assigned to a unit and respond as needed.”

While firefighters responded to dozens of calls for downed trees and powerlines, they were assisted by many members of SMCSO. “I’m very proud of the coordinated response from the sheriff’s office, Maryland State Police, volunteer fire/EMS and our dispatchers at the Emergency Communications Center,” said Sheriff Tim Cameron. “The State Highway Administration, Department of Public Works and SMECO, have also been working diligently to ensure citizens safety and comfort. These responses are a direct result of extensive training and preparation for events and weather we experienced.”

Corporal Julie Yingling, Public Information officer for SMCSO, noted that Sheriff Cameron was also out and about in the county Friday responding to calls. “Our county resources really came together.”

Wahrenbrock echoed that statement, “Everyone did a great job and we’re lucky to have the volunteer resources we have and that includes our surrounding counties.”

Fortunately, no major injuries were reported during the storm.

Contact Joy Shrum at

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