- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Evening storms yesterday brought the rush hour to a crawl on the Capital Beltway, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and other thoroughfares while knocking out power in areas still smarting from the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isabel.

The storms also were blamed for at least two deaths in the Baltimore area.

An 11-year-old boy drowned in a rain-swollen creek at about 3 p.m. He was walking home from Chinquapin Middle School near Herring Run Creek, which cuts a swath through the city’s Govans area.

The boy slipped on a rock and dropped his book bag, said Kevin Cartwright, a Baltimore fire department spokesman. When the boy tried to retrieve the bag, he fell into the water. The boy’s body was found blocks away in the creek.

Officers from the Baltimore Police Department withheld the boy’s name pending notification of his family. People at the middle school declined to comment on the boy’s death.

The second death was a construction worker in the Woodlawn area who was caught in floodwaters while working on a storm drain, authorities said.

Another man was found alive within 20 minutes, said Elise Armacost, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman. He was taken to St. Agnes Hospital in cardiac arrest. Both were more than a half-mile downstream. The search for a third man was called off after dark, but was to resume this morning.

“There is a finite amount of time that a human being can survive in water,” Miss Armacost said.

The men were in a group of 10 working for a private contracting company that was repairing an 8-foot culvert beneath Interstate 70. The water level rose dramatically in the culvert at about 2:30 p.m., sweeping the three men into a tributary of the Gwynns Falls called Dead Run.

Glenn Blackwell, spokesman for the county fire department, said rescuers did not think the missing worker survived because of the distance he likely traveled amid the fast-moving water.

Baltimore County police still were trying to identify the men last night.

In Montgomery County, at least six persons needed help from the county’s swift-water rescue team after high water trapped them in their vehicles in Germantown, Poolesville and Bethesda, said Pete Piringer, a county fire spokesman.

No injuries were reported.

High winds and lashing rain caused long delays on the Outer Loop of the Beltway in Montgomery County and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Maryland State Highway Administration officials reported that eastbound Route 50 near Route 301 was closed at about 3:30 p.m. because of an accident. All lanes were reopened within an hour.

Fourteen secondary roads through Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties were closed because of flooding.

“We have no more delays than typical for a rainy night,” said a Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

The National Weather Service issued severe thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings and tornado watches for much of the metropolitan area yesterday afternoon. The weather service said the storms were capable of producing gusts of up to 65 mph.

Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco) officials reported 4,500 homes, mostly in Prince George’s County, without power yesterday afternoon, but said the number was decreasing as crews worked quickly to restore electric service.

Pepco officials said they were preparing for the storms yesterday morning by arranging with nearby utilities to call in extra repair crews if needed.

About 90 percent of Pepco’s customers lost power during Tropical Storm Isabel in September. The utility serves more than 700,000 in the District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Dominion Virginia Power reported 7,200 customers in Northern Virginia without electricity after heavy winds knocked trees and limbs onto power lines.

Baltimore Gas & Electric, which serves about 1.1 million customers in central Maryland, reported about 3,900 residences and businesses without power, but only 12 were in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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