5 Dead, Millions Go Powerless in DC area…
Pepco: Some in the dark for up to a week
WASHINGTON – The storms that ravaged the WTOP listening area Friday night have left more than a million customers without electricity and five dead as crews clear roads, try to restore power and brace for another round of storms Saturday night.
The governments of Virginia and D.C. have declared a state of emergency. President Barack Obama called the governors of Maryland and Virginia offering federal assistance.
A Pepco spokesman says there are 438,000 people without power in Maryland and D.C., and some could stay in the dark for up to 7 days.
“We want our customers to have realistic expectations, as unfortunate as they are,” says spokesman Clay Anderson. “We definitely know it’s hot out there for customers and our crews as well.”
The utility company is still assessing the damage, and if it crews will have to shut down additional live lines that were downed by the storm. Pepco is also waiting to hear back from utility companies in other states that could come to assist power restoration. Those companies must first receive clearance from their home states that they are not needed there. Pepco also faces competition for those resources from other short- handed area utilities.
Another storm is bearing down on the D.C. region from the Ohio Valley area. Pepco says it will pull crews from restoring power if the conditions become unsafe.
The governor of Maryland called it “a historic storm,” and Virginia and D.C. have declared a state of emergency.
“This is the largest non-hurricane power outage in Virginia history,” Gov. Bob McDonnell says. “Virginians need to be on guard and to be working together … and to find out where the shelters are.”
“The severity of the storm damage necessitates the declaration of a public emergency to enable District government to respond to emerging issues as expeditiously as possible,” said D.C. City Administrator Allen Y. Lew.
At least five people in the D.C. region are dead after being hit by falling trees. One woman was in her car when the tree hit, and another was sleeping in her bed when a tree crashed into her bedroom. A third was killed while sitting in a car in Northwest early Saturday morning when a downed line set his car on fire.
In Prince William County and in parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties, 911 emergency phone systems are out. In Prince William County, residents are asked to call 703-792-6500 in the event of an emergency.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management says there are 911 issues throughout the state. Below are some other numbers to call if you are having an emergency and can’t get through on 911.
- Fairfax County Police: 703-691-2131
- Fairfax County Fire: 703-246-2126
- Arlington County Police: 703-558-2222
- Arlington County Fire: 703-228-3362
- Alexandria Police: 703-746-1870
- Alexandria Fire: 703-746-5200
- Prince William Police & Fire: 703-792-6500
- Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office: 703-777-1021
- Loudoun County Dept of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management: 703-777- 0637
Below are the websites and phone numbers for area power companies:
- Pepco : 1-877-737-2662
- Dominion Power: 1-866-366-4357
- BGE: 1-877-778-2222
- Allegheny: 1-800-255-3443
- NOVEC: 1-888-335- 0500
- SMECO: 1-877-747-6326
Power outage numbers as of 11 a.m.
- Pepco: 450,000
- Dominion: 431,000 in Northern Virginia
- BGE: 420,000 in D.C. area including Baltimore
- Potomac Edison: 44,000 in Maryland
- SMECO: 34,000
- NOVAC: 23,000
- Rappahannock: 20,000 in D.C. area.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Pepco made headlines in recent years for what some customers say was a sluggish response to power outages caused by extreme snow, heat or storms. Recently it announced it would be seeking a rate increase from their customers.
When asked about the rate increase versus the company’s performance, spokesman Anderson said “I don’t personally think that the damage to the infrastructure and the ability to repair it quickly and safely is directly related to an acceptability of the rate case.
Only about 25 percent of a Pepco bill is for distribution and infrastructure, he says.
“We can debate and discuss this, but it is hot oustide and our customers need power and I’d like to, at least, in this discussion, keep it to restoration (of power),” he says.
Hydrate, But Don’t Overdo It
Mandatory water restrictions are in place for Montgomery and Prince George’s county. Residents and business owners are urged to use water only for essential indoor uses, and to avoid running the washing machine or the dishwasher.
There are no restrictions in water usage in D.C., a spokeswoman tells WTOP.
This measure is important because both water filtration centers that supply water lost power overnight and were unable to keep working, so the water supply is lower than it should be.
Across the area, debris litters streets, making it difficult to navigate because of downed foliage. Many area roads are shut down as crews begin the cleanup process.
In Montgomery County, only half of the traffic lights are currently operating. Reports are coming in from throughout the region that traffic lights are out. Motorists are urged to treat each intersection as a four-way stop to stay safe.