Hundreds of thousands without power in DC region after powerful storms rip through; 2 dead

Monday, July 26, 2010

Power outages hit DC area after storms; 2 dead

WASHINGTON — Crews worked Monday to restore electricity to thousands after powerful storms barreled through the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, killing two people and downing power lines and countless trees.

The Sunday storms cooled things off after a nearly two-week heat wave but left widespread damage in the city and suburbs, authorities said.

Regional utility Pepco reported more than 240,500 customers were still without power early Monday in Washington and neighboring Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. Because the damage was so widespread, there was no timetable for most places to be back on line, Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson said.

Not only were power lines down but electric poles were broken and numerous transformers were damaged, he said.

A tree crushed a minivan in Beltsville, killing a woman in her 40s and injuring a woman in her 60s, Prince George’s County fire spokesman Mark Brady said.

In Loudoun County, a 6-year-old boy died after a large section of a tree fell on him while he was walking with his family, authorities said.

In Washington, officials said there were more than 270 reports of fallen trees or very large limbs and parts of trees that caused damage.

Baltimore Gas & Electric said about 37,000 customers were without service early Monday. As of late Sunday, Dominion Virginia Power reported that 38,000 customers were without power.

Transportation officials said numerous traffic signals were out throughout the region, including some along major routes. Power also went out at more than a dozen Metro rail stations and heavy rain flooded one station, the transit agency said. Officials said many generators were still in use early Monday.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said the storm also cut off power at its filtration plant that provides water for nearly 2 million people in suburban Maryland. The commission said although power had been restored Monday, mandatory restrictions on water use were still in place.

The National Weather Service said a strong cold front pushed through the area, causing all the damage. Besides downed trees and power lines, roofs were lifted off some buildings from the gusts of wind. The area also was drenched with heavy rain.

In Prince George’s County, authorities say the storm damaged nearly three-dozen apartment buildings, displacing hundreds of residents.

The storm seemed to take those marching downtown in the Boy Scouts of America Grand Centennial Parade by surprise. The Washington Post reported that some scouts were running through the wind and rain, kerchiefs and caps flying.

On Monday, some counties closed summer camps and other programs.

Before the storm, the area had been suffering in oppressive heat for almost two weeks with temperatures in the high 90s.

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