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Ongoing outages, dark traffic lights complicate D.C.-area commute
The District also canceled classes on Tuesday and set up a collection where residents can drop off their spoiled food instead of waiting for the next garbage pickup.
Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said crews have been dispatched to signal locations across the state, working to repair and restore lights.
Mr. Gischlar said Monday’s commute featured typical congestion, but it appeared “a lot of people heeded the warning” to add extra time for stopping at intersections with nonfunctioning lights.
“Or people started vacation early. There was nothing that was absolutely terrible,” he said.
Montgomery County, which had about 500 dark intersections at the peak of its outage, cut that number by more than half by 5 p.m. Monday, according to county police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks.
Heavy trees splintered by winds were chopped up and removed, and crews worked to clear downed power lines from front yards and sidewalks.
But while major roadways were improved, many Montgomery County residents found themselves in the same situation they were in three days ago.
Closing the trunk of her car, which was loaded with bags of ice, 61-year-old Cynthia Nystrom stood in the parking lot of a Giant Food store near Kensington, a near-empty red Slurpee cup in her hand.
“I’ve got three coolers,” Ms. Nystrom said. “I had to throw out anything that didn’t fit.”
Ms. Nystrom said her power has also been out since Friday. Her days have been spent making runs for ice, gasoline — she uses her car to charge her electronics — and visiting her powered-up family in Frederick, Md.
“I had a doctor’s appointment in Georgetown, and I couldn’t get out,” said Ms. Nystrom, who tried several streets to get out of town, but found them all gridlocked by dark intersections.
Having survived several hot days, Ms. Nystrom said that at this point, she just feels bad for her cats, which have resorted to sleeping on the air conditioner compressor, waiting for it to turn back on.
“We’re actually kind of lucky as far as long-term damage,” Ms. Nystrom said of her undamaged home. “We just have to get through this outage.”
Jason Kirsch, who co-owns Chevy Chase Supermarket with his brother, said the store’s contingency plan in case of a power outage was a 53-foot refrigerated trailer. But the refrigerator failed early Monday, and everything inside spoiled.
“For a store that has been in business for 58 years, it’s really devastating,” Mr. Kirsch said. “We will do everything in our power to survive this event, but it’s been as close to a knockout punch as we can get.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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