Utility crews steadily restore power to most of the county

At peak of problems from last week's storm, 28,000 lacked service

January 19, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Utility crews had restored service to all but 3,341 customers in Carroll County by 3 p.m. yesterday and were striving to have all service restored by last night, a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokeswoman said.

That was down from 7,000 customers without power early yesterday after an ice storm last week, said Brenda Pettigrew, a BGE spokeswoman.

At the peak of the storm-related problems at 10 a.m. Friday, after ice-laden power wires began snapping or were knocked down by trees and limbs weighted by ice, BGE reported more than 28,000 customers in Carroll had lost service.

Yesterday afternoon, gusty winds began roaring through the county, felling more trees and wires, particularly in the southern end of the county along Route 97, south of Liberty Road toward the Howard County border.

Emergency officials reported no major damage, but additional damage threatened to further tax weary BGE crews.

Throughout the weekend, outages in Carroll were isolated, making it difficult to pinpoint how many customers in each troubled area were without power, Pettigrew said.

One problem area was in Woodbine near the Howard County line. That area had been without power since Friday because a feeder line failed at Old Frederick and Hoods Mill roads in Howard County.

That line, which supplies electricity between a substation and transformers that carry power on to individual homes and businesses, provides service to customers in both counties, Pettigrew said.

Woodbine farmer Ed Primoff and many of his neighbors along Route 97 had been without power since Friday. He said he has little faith in the BGE hot line.

"I called Friday, and BGE said the power would be back on that night," he said.

He called Saturday, Sunday and yesterday. The answer was the same, he said: "Any time now."

"If I had known it would be this long, we would have gotten a hotel room," Primoff said. "It's freezing in the house."

State police reported minor travel problems yesterday, including icy conditions on Carrollton Road north of Westminster before dawn.

Road crews, working overtime on yesterday's state and county holiday, were called to spread salt, said Sgt. Brenda Tharp, of the Westminster barracks.

At Westminster motels, business over the weekend increased slightly as some area residents sought refuge from the power outages.

About 25 rooms were rented Friday night to people who said they had no heat at home, a spokeswoman at the Days Inn in Westminster said yesterday.

Officials at the Comfort Inn and the Boston Inn reported renting about 10 more rooms than usual on Friday and Saturday nights.

"Several of the guests did mention having no electricity at home," said Amy Boston of the Boston Inn.

"Most people without electricity stayed with family or friends," said Thierry Bompard, Comfort Inn manager.

The effect of the icy weather on area restaurants was more difficult to judge. Some residents without power might have gone out to eat, but many others stayed at home because of poor driving conditions.

Several diners at Rudy's 2900 in Finksburg Saturday evening spoke of power outages at home, but business was "about normal," a spokeswoman said.

In Mount Airy, a spokesman at the Quail Ridge Inn said business was slow Thursday and Friday evenings.

Some people without electricity, such as Irene Stem of Silver Run, stayed home and cooked hamburgers and soup on a kerosene heater.

Stem, 70, and her husband Truman, 69, live in the 900 block of Cherrytown Road, where about 18 homes were without power from Friday morning until 5: 45 p.m. Sunday.

Stem said she heated water in a tea kettle for bathing.

"I had to throw out some hot dogs that spoiled, but the rest of the meat in the freezer was still [frozen]," she said.

Stem said she didn't want to leave home, fearing that water pipes would freeze.

Sun staff writer Mary Gail Hare contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 1/19/99

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