- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 17, 2007

Thousands of residents remained without power for a third day yesterday and many others were warned of falling ice as utility workers and cleaning crews struggled to get rid of icy tree limbs and loose chunks of ice throughout the area.

At least one man was injured in Northwest yesterday when a slab of ice fell from a building and struck him in the head.

About 10 a.m., the 32-year-old man was standing outside of a business near 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue Northwest when a 45-square-foot piece of ice came loose from an overhead ledge and fell on him, said D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter.

The man was taken to George Washington University Hospital for a head wound and possible concussion, Mr. Etter said.

“He was obviously quite shaken,” he said.

Meanwhile, utility workers, also facing freezing conditions, worked to restore electricity to thousands of customers in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. At midday, there were nearly 14,000 outages in Anne Arundel and about 6,000 in Prince George’s.

Local power companies said the Valentine’s Day storm was particularly damaging because of ice, below-freezing temperatures and gusts of wind.

“Even if falling ice is comparatively minimal, it can cause more damage than regular snow,” said Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Miss Foy said BGE called in 600 utility workers from the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio for help and had about 2,000 total personnel working to restore power. BGE, the most heavily damaged system, had repaired more than 130,000 outages by yesterday.

“We’re well on track to have the vast majority of our customers restored by [last night],” Miss Foy said yesterday afternoon.

Fewer than 6,000 BGE customers remained without power last night.

Utility workers faced many problems because frozen roads made it difficult to reach locations quickly and slowed work on equipment that needed to be defrosted.

“It’s pretty dangerous to be up there in those bucket trucks,” said Bob Dobkin, a spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. “It’s dangerous work in the best of conditions.”

Mr. Dobkin said by midday Pepco had fixed all but seven outages in the initial wave of interruptions. There were an additional 500 outages that occurred between Thursday night and yesterday morning being worked on.

Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson said all storm-related outages in Northern Virginia had been restored by Thursday night.

The companies said steady progress was being made but, because tree limbs are still frozen, there would likely be more outages when they fall.

Throughout the region, authorities have responded to several calls of ice chunks — some as heavy as 400 pounds — teetering from awnings and rooftop edges, threatening to break off and fall onto unsuspecting passers-by.

Yesterday afternoon, authorities responded to reports of ice looming overhead at Seventh and H streets Northwest near the Verizon Center, Mr. Etter said.

And authorities on Thursday shut down F Street at 14th Street in Northwest to take down a large piece of ice hanging from the side of a building. Firefighters broke up the chunk of ice, which hung from the seventh floor of a nine-story building.

No one was injured in either case, Mr. Etter said.

Mr. Etter said other large slabs have been taken down at various spots. “We urge property owners to survey their buildings” for potentially harmful ice, he said.

Yesterday’s incident in the District came two days after a 15-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree in Bluemont, Va.

Jennifer Elizabeth Zilke, a sophomore at Loudoun Valley High School, was walking in the front yard of her Foggy Bottom Road home on Wednesday afternoon when a wind gust snapped off a portion of a large tree, Loudoun County officials said. The tree fell to the ground and struck the girl.

In Maryland, state troopers have been stopping motorists with partially blocked windshields and ice-covered roofs. Loose ice can slide onto windshields or become a hazard for other drivers.

Sgt. Arthur Betts, a state police spokesman, said troopers have responded to about 20 incidents in the region of vehicles damaged by flying sheets of ice — mainly from tractor-trailers and large trucks.

All injuries in those incidents were minor, he said.

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