- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2003

Power companies in Virginia, Maryland and the District say the situation is improving by the hour, but officials concede that electricity won’t be restored to all of the estimated 1.8 million customers still in the dark until Friday.

President Bush will visit an emergency operations center today in Virginia, the state hardest hit by the storm last Thursday. Nineteen of the 33 deaths blamed on Isabel were in Virginia, and most of the power outages — almost 1 million businesses and households — are spread throughout the state.

More than 75,000 of those outages were reported in Northern Virginia late yesterday, according to Dominion Virginia Power. With more than 345,000 customers in the Washington area still without electricity late yesterday, school officials in the District and in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties decided late yesterday to cancel classes today.

About 240,000 Pepco customers were still without power yesterday, including 70,000 in the District, 105,000 in Montgomery County and 66,000 in Prince George’s County.

“We estimate that we will have all power restored by Friday,” Pepco spokeswoman Camille Smith said. “Our first priorities are hospitals and those in life-threatening situations, such as customers with downed wires.”

Pepco will then concentrate on restoring large clusters of customers before turning its attention to individual lines. Pepco, still reeling from storms last month that caused significant outages, said more than 2,500 downed wires have been reported.

Sixty-two crews from Tennessee and Kentucky arrived Saturday night to assist 570 Pepco crews with the restoration effort. The damage from the storm has caused crews to replace more than 130,000 feet of cable and thousands of fuses.

BGE, which provides power to more than 1 million Maryland residents, reported 21,000 customers in Prince George’s County and 2,000 in Montgomery County without power yesterday.

While school officials and utility crews were still dealing with the hurricane’s effects, Metro trains and buses were expected — for the most part — to return to regular schedules today.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said power has been restored to all subway stations and rail yards through the electric utilities, generators or a combination of both.

Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations on the Green Line, which were closed Friday and Saturday nights owing to lack of lighting, will remain open after nightfall.

Miss Farbstein said an electric feed line is powering the Greenbelt and Branch Avenue rail yards, so all 50 rail cars there will be available for today’s commute.

There is still no power at the Bladensburg bus yard, which affects 164 buses. If power is not restored by this morning, these buses, which operate on compressed natural gas, will run in the morning but will not be available during the afternoon.

Metro plans to operate its buses on regular schedules this morning, but will make plenty of detours owing to trees and debris in the roads.

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