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Progress being made in power restoration

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Nearly 14,000 Montgomery County residents were still without power at the close of business Thursday, six days after last Friday's violent storm that wiped out power to more than 1 million customers throughout the region.

The numbers were smaller in the District (1,464)and Prince George's (356), Pepco said.

More than 95 percent of Pepco customers did have power as of noon Thursday. Just more than 5,000 Northern Virginia residents were still in the dark late Thursday afternoon, according to Dominion Virginia Power, which cut its outages in half during the day. It reported 95 percent restoration Wednesday.

Pepco still expects to have power restored to most of the remainder of those without power by their original estimate of 11 p.m. Friday, spokesman Clay Anderson said.

Outages focused in mid- to west-central Montgomery County are "due to the destruction of our infrastructure in that area," Mr. Anderson said. He mentioned several challenges to the restoration process there. A large number of trees damaged wires and poles in the area, crews are taking longer in the heat and narrow roads impede bringing in equipment, he explained.

The Montgomery County Council is planning a debriefing on Pepco's response to the outages on July 19. The debriefing will include Maryland Public Service Commission Chairman Doug Nazarian to discuss the storm's dynamics and how Pepco has responded to state requests for improvement, council spokesman Neil H. Greenberger said.

Some Montgomery residents who rely on well water run by electric pumps also have no access to running water, Mr. Greenberger said. He is concerned with Pepco's response to these needs.

"We were really hoping in many ways that because we've really called [Pepco] on the carpet before and they've agreed to make improvements that we wouldn't have anything of this magnitude," Mr. Greenberger said.

The District's Public Service Commission is also reviewing Pepco's performance regarding the storm. Pepco will be required to file reports within 21 days after the end of repairs. After the report is filed, a public hearing will be scheduled.

To date, a total of 27 deaths have been attributed to the storm, according to wire reports. The number of deaths in Virginia leapt to 13 on Thursday, with a fourth death in Fairfax County and one in Loudoun County. Maryland reported four deaths, and the District had none. Maryland reported an additional four deaths due to heat on Thursday.

Many local governments have cleared debris from major roadways and are moving on to smaller concerns. D.C.'s Department of Public Works has established tree boxes for residents to utilize and continues to remove trees from smaller roadways.

"We're making really good progress," D.C. Department of transportation spokeswoman Monica Hernandez said, emphasizing the goal is to be finished as soon as possible. Prince George's County will allow residents to utilize local facilities for free through the end of the week to dispose of debris. In Arlington County, crews are going from house to house to collect the remaining debris. Fairfax County asked residents to request a brush pickup to speed the process. Montgomery County will begin its debris collection process Wednesday, and requested that residents place debris in public rights of way.

Given the sweltering forecast for the days ahead with temperatures predicted to be in the triple digits, many communities have issued heat advisories. In the District, many pools will have extended hours.

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