- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003

Most homes in the region have had their electricity restored since Hurricane Isabel hit 12 days ago, but utility officials said yesterday that trees unsteadied by soggy conditions and the storm’s high winds continue to cause problems.

“We’re going to continue seeing trees coming down,” said Bob Dobkin, spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. “Pepco is continuing to get reports of trees falling on power lines, and this is causing additional random outages.”

About 485 homes in the metropolitan region were without power yesterday afternoon.

Pepco had 530,000 outages after the storm reached the region Sept. 18, but had reduced the number to 56 homes yesterday.

“We’ve stopped counting,” Mr. Dobkin said.

Customers should call 877/Pepco-62 to report new outages.

Baltimore Gas & Electric had restored power to all its 650,000 customers by Saturday, said its Web site, www.bge.com. Crews had replaced 444 broken poles, 306 transformers and 3,482 fuses, said an official.

However, two crew members brought in for the emergency, one from Mississippi and the other from Georgia, were killed in the process.

The company has 13,000 customers in Montgomery County and 70,000 in Prince George’s County.

Dominion Virginia Power reported yesterday that it was slightly ahead of schedule and had restored power to 91 percent of its 1.8 million affected customers in Virginia and North Carolina. But roughly 141,000 customers remained without power.

Company officials project that the remaining customers without power will be restored by Friday.

Crews restored power to about 70,000 customers Saturday, said Jimmy Staton, senior vice president of operations.

Dominion has 724,818 customers in Northern Virginia. Yesterday afternoon, 429 of them did not have electricity.

Most Dominion outages are in its southern region. The hurricane made landfall just south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and swept north through Hampton Roads, Richmond and the Shenandoah region.

The hurricane, which was downgraded to a tropical storm after reaching land, caused widespread flooding in Old Town Alexandria and the Baltimore waterfront.

It also downed numerous trees and power lines before losing strength in the Great Lakes region.

About 62,000 customers were still without power yesterday in the Hampton Roads area, and about 54,000 were without power in the Richmond area.

Isabel knocked out power to about 95 percent of Dominion’s customers in those areas. Dominion said customers still having power problems should call 888/667-3000.

Dominion has warned that restoring power to people in hard-hit regions or rural areas may take some time. Spokeswoman Irene Cimino has said a “handful” of customers will be in the dark past Friday.

Those without power were voicing anger at Dominion.

Someone attached a 6-foot wooden board scrawled with neon orange spray paint to a street sign outside the company’s Richmond headquarters yesterday morning accusing Dominion of being “dishonest,” “inept,” “insincere” and “no help.”

Security removed the board shortly after it was posted.

Linda Moccio, 31, said she had been told her that power would not be restored until Thursday when she called Dominion’s toll-free hot line. That would give the Richmond resident two full weeks without electricity.

“The hardest time is at dusk, when it really kind of hits me in the face,” she said yesterday, noting that the entire block across the street from her has power.

“I think Dominion needs to inform us better about what’s going on. Now that they’re down to several thousand customers [without power], they should be calling me to tell me when I’ll get my lights back on.”

Earlier this week, irate callers to a radio show with Gov. Mark Warner railed against the power company, the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not being better prepared for the storm.

This article based in part on wire service reports.

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