Thaw gets recovery under way

February 15, 1994|By William Thompson and David Michael Ettlin | William Thompson and David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writers

With round-the-clock work by power company repair crews and an assist from rapidly improving weather conditions, Maryland moved close to recovery yesterday from the effects of last week's ice storm.

Several thousand utility customers remained without electricity late yesterday in the hardest hit areas across the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland -- some losing power even as others had it restored.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said repairs of earlier damage -- affecting a total of 128,000 customers since last week -- had been completed. But 1,600 customers in northern Calvert County had power outages yesterday because ice on tree limbs caused them to break and fall on wires as wind gusts reached 20 mph to 30 mph early in the day.

Late last night, a company spokeswoman said, only 100 remained without power.

But Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative said 10,000 of its customers were still without power late last night -- one of the factors in the decision by officials in St. Mary's and Calvert counties to keep schools closed today.

On the Eastern Shore, so many power lines were snapped by ice-covered tree limbs that the Delmarva Power & Light Co. called upon Pennsylvania and New Jersey utilities for assistance, spokesman Jay Mason said.

Mr. Mason said Delmarva has 20 crews working under normal conditions. Yesterday, he said, there were 142 line crews and 72 tree-trimming crews.

"We're throwing everything we've got at this," said Mr. Mason. "We've never seen anything like this."

Late yesterday, Delmarva reported that 2,170 customers on the Eastern Shore and in parts of Delaware were without electricity. That number was down considerably from the 18,800 customers without power on Sunday afternoon.

For some, yesterday was the sixth day without power. Delmarva Power said it has distributed 40,000 pounds of dry ice for customers trying to keep foods from spoiling.

In Easton, 500 customers remained without power. Major system repairs were expected to be completed by tomorrow, but some customers outside the town may not be reconnected for another week, said Easton Utilities spokeswoman Nancy Brinson.

Martinak State Park outside Denton in Caroline County was closed to the public because of safety concerns about icy roads and damaged trees, said Daryl Decesare, a Department of Natural Resources regional parks director.

"We've got dozens of broken trees, uprooted trees, trees that are about to fall," he said.

But in tiny Wye Oak State Park in Wye Mills, the state's official tree -- a 400-year-old giant white oak --apparently survived the storm with hardly the loss of a twig.

Temperatures reached the low 40s across much of the state yesterday -- a few degrees short of predicted highs because of the cooling effects of accumulated ice and snow on the ground, said National Weather Service forecaster Amet Figueroa at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Although low temperatures were expected to dip into the 20s overnight, Mr. Figueroa said that today will become positively balmy -- at least by recent standards -- with highs of 50 to 55 degrees. The sun is expected to shine all week.

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