- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2008

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Tropical Storm Hanna stayed true to her name Saturday, skirting hurricane status but hurling high winds and torrential rains from South Carolina to Maryland before moving quickly toward New England.

The storm left thousands without power in the Washington area, and two areas in Fairfax County were evacuated because of flooding. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said Prince William County was hardest hit and that statewide about 80 people remained at emergency shelters Saturday evening.

At least four traffic deaths, three of them in Virginia, were attributed to the storm.

In Loudoun County, authorities rescued two people from a car caught in high water at Old Ox and Cedar Green roads.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge remained open despite expectations it would have to close.

Rock Creek in the District swelled with runoff, flooding some nearby streets.

Fairfax County officials reported as much as 10 inches of rain at a gauge near Lake Barcroft, and evacuated the Huntington neighborhood downstream as streets became inundated. The threat of a dam overflowing at Royal Lake spurred precautionary evacuations in Burke.

“We had to open two different shelters in two different areas of Fairfax County,” said county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald.

Though waters had begun to recede by 6 p.m. Saturday, officials were not allowing residents back into their homes immediately.

“We are currently doing multiagency assessments,” Ms. Fitzgerald said. “We don’t believe any water actually got into anyone’s house [in Huntington]. Water covered the streets, and we worried about the sewer backup, so we had health and public works inspectors and firefighters going house to house to assess the conditions.

Dominion Virginia Power reported that as of 10 a.m. Saturday, 44,000 customers had lost power, mostly because of the storm. By Saturday evening, the number had been reduced to 9,000 and the utility expected power to be restored to all customers by Sunday night.

Baltimore Gas & Electric reported 16,000 outages remaining Saturday evening, while 5,000 Pepco customers, nearly all in Montgomery County, were still affected.

The three traffic deaths in Virginia were the result of two wrecks in Chesterfield County, Mr. Kaine said.

In Maryland, the driver of a sports utility vehicle was killed when it veered off southbound Interstate 95 near Powder Mill Road and hit a tree. A young child in the vehicle was injured.

Prince George’s County officials said that at around midday about three dozen crashes had occurred because of pooled water in the streets. Most of the crashes involved single vehicles, which suggests the weather was a factor, emergency crews said.

In general, Maryland appeared to have been spared the worst of Hanna, emergency officials said Saturday evening.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency spokesman Ed Hopkins said there has been a lot of rain across the state — including five inches reported in Charles County by 3 p.m. Saturday —and many downed trees.

Mr. Hopkins said emergency officials around the state are reporting 2 to 2 1/2 feet of tidal flooding, but not enough to cause significant problems.

Hanna forced some campers to leave Assateague Island National Seashore, but the famous wild horses weathered the storm just fine.

The ponies know where to find sheltered spots on the barrier island off the Maryland-Virginia coast, Ranger Christopher Seymour said. Some of them even sleep through big storms, he said.

Tent campers weren’t so lucky. Park managers asked them to leave their campsites in the national park as the storm blew in.

Campgrounds in the Maryland state park section of the island were closed and will reopen Sunday.

With sustained winds from Hanna reaching 40 to 49 miles per hour late Saturday afternoon, the Maryland Transportation Authority prohibited house trailers, empty box trailers and other vehicles subject to strong winds on the Bay Bridge.

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