- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Local utility companies said yesterday that crews will fully restore electricity by tonight to thousands of customers who lost power after a wave of strong thunderstorms rolled through the region Wednesday night.

At the peak of the storms, about 60,000 Potomac Electric Power Co. customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland and the District were without power. By mid-morning yesterday, nearly 20,600 of those were in the dark, officials said.

“Most of them will have it back sometime [Thursday] evening,” said Robert Dobkin, a Pepco spokesman. Complete power restoration is expected to go into early evening today.

“When you get down to the last few hundred it takes longer, because you’re dealing with single homes usually,” he said. “We’re making good progress, and we expect it to continue.”

The fast-moving storms brought high winds, heavy rains and lightning strikes. Numerous trees tore down power lines and damaged electrical equipment across the region.

About 43,000 customers in Northern Virginia lost their power Wednesday night. Of those, about 1,150 remained without electricity yesterday.

“We expect that they’ll be getting it back very soon,” said David Botkins, a spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE) yesterday hadabout 400 repair men working to restore power to more than 100,000 customers in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and parts of Prince George’s counties, officials said.

As of yesterday afternoon, about 70,000 BGE customers were back online, company officials said.

The number of outages peaked at 9 p.m. Wednesday, when nearly 87,600 BGE customers were without service.

Extra crews were brought in from Pennsylvania, Virginia, southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore and were working through the night to restore power to customers by this afternoon.

“A vast amount of those remaining will have [power] by Friday morning,” said Linda Foy, a BGE spokeswoman.

About 145 Pepco crews are working 16-hour shifts to fully restore power to their customers.

Meanwhile, area transportation officials said no major streets or intersections were blocked by downed trees or power lines.

“We’re still tallying the effects of the storm — some streets were blocked, but they’re clear now,” said Bill Rice, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation.

“We do ask people to put the tree debris if they can in small sizes at the curb without blocking the sidewalk and the street for pickup over the next few weeks. We ask them to be patient as we’ll get to it as soon as we can.”

The extent of total damage in Virginia, Maryland and the District was not known yesterday, utility officials said.

“We’ll add up the costs when it’s all over,” Mr. Dobkin said. “We’ve had numerous trees that took down the lines and reports of more than 400 wires down.”

Pepco, Dominion Virginia and BGE crews will not provide dry ice for those customers without power for an extended period of time.

“That ended a while ago. We need to devote our efforts to restoring customers’ [power],” Mr. Dobkin said.

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