Some go 8 hours without electricity

January 20, 1994|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

When the temperature started dropping faster inside her Columbia house than outside, Eileen Dibler knew she had a problem yesterday morning.

The electricity went out at 9:40 a.m. The temperature dropped 15 degrees in an hour. She breathed a sigh of relief, however, when the temperature stabilized at 54 degrees.

The Diblers were among more than 300 East Columbia residents who were without power for about eight hours yesterday.

The problems yesterday were "multiple," said John Metzger, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokesman.

"Originally, we thought this was a problem with a few individuals, but we encountered further problems" such as the switching equipment melting, he said. Altogether, five different crews were sent to the Huntington neighborhood to restore service to 325 homes. Residents on Nightsong Lane and Red Apple Lane were without power for eight hours, along with some residents on White Spring Way.

Full service was restored at about 6 p.m.

Karen Wenstrup of White Spring Way was prepared. She had purchased a wood stove 13 years ago for just such an emergency. Like most of her neighbors, Ms. Wenstrup was waiting out yesterday's situation with wry humor, knowing it would ultimately be corrected.

"It's still the same thing -- we're still having the same problem after all these years," she said with a laugh. "When we were out four hours this summer, we sat in the driveway and watched the BG&E trucks go by."

Ann Kennedy was one of many White Spring Way residents celebrating their good fortune in having power yesterday.

"BG&E was out here last week laying some new lines," she said. "I don't know if that's what made the difference or not." Regardless, Ms. Kennedy felt a kinship for those of her neighbors still without power. "It's brutal, just brutal," she said.

At the Dibler residence on Red Apple Lane yesterday afternoon, 9-year-old Jeff said the power failure was "boring -- and a little scary."

Jeff and two friends, Jay and Michael, had planned to brave the near-zero temperatures and go sledding, but Jeff's father, Jack, cautioned against it, saying they would "not be able to come inside and get warm."

Sister Beth, 12, had been invited to spend the night at a friend's house where there was electricity, but she decided to tough it out with the family in front of the fireplace.

"It's not too cold, if you don't think about it," Ms. Dibler said. It was hard not to, however, especially when someone wanted a soda. The sodas, stored in the garage, had frozen.

As did many of their neighbors, the Diblers said that if things had gotten too bad, they would have spent the night with friends or checked into a motel.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker said the county provides emergency shelter in schools and sometimes meals for people stranded temporarily.

"The problem is getting the word out," he said. "Unless they have a battery-powered radio, they're not going to find out about it."

Mr. Ecker said the county opened an emergency shelter at Altholton High School several nights ago, but no one came. Whenever people need emergency shelter, they should contact the nearest fire station and officials at the station will direct them to the nearest shelter, Mr. Ecker said.

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