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Outages put Pepco on multiple hot seats
‘Unacceptable’ rate of recovery
Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Democrat, said he asked truck drivers in his neighborhood why they were “waiting for Pepco” when they had a “Pepco” sticker on their truck, and Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, asked if the city should plant its trees more strategically.
Ultimately, they realized that many of their inquiries were misdirected.
“Last time I checked, none of you guys are Pepco,” Mr. Mendelson quipped, looking across the table at Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice; City Administrator Allen Lew; D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, and Christopher Geldart, acting director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
“We’re always talking about the after-effect, but what are we going to do prevent it?” he said.
At times, city leaders weighed the harsh intensity of Friday’s “derecho” - a type of rare, straight-line windstorm that is hard to predict - against rampant dissatisfaction with restoration efforts.
“This is something that doesn’t happen all the time,” he said.
Indeed, city officials said the widespread impact of the storm forced Pepco to search for support crews from several states away instead of neighboring jurisdictions, which delayed their arrival.
A proposal to bury power lines underground gained traction Monday, but lawmakers acknowledged the project is disruptive and would cost billions of dollars. Several council members said they should re-examine the costly measure, even if lines are installed bit-by-bit over the years.
“I think the benefits outweigh the difficulty, but there is that cost,” Mr. Mendelson said after pointing out that underground repairs are especially arduous.
For now, Mr. Geldart encouraged council members to relate their concerns to his agency, such as their top-three cooling centers and where to send pack of free ice.
After all, he said, “This is going to happen again.”
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About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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