Ice bags help ease pain from storm

Left without power, customers line up to try to save perishables

August 16, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

The Listmans wanted to save their venison, rockfish and five dozen soft-shell crabs. The Cummingses were worried how long their side of beef, chicken fillets and hot dogs would last. And Kelly R. Duly just wanted to know when her power would be back on.

Tired and frustrated, they were among the thousands of Marylanders who were without electricity yesterday after a band of thunderstorms swept across the state Saturday evening, knocking power out to more than 110,000 residents.

Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties fared worst in the storms, and yesterday, residents afraid of losing everything in their refrigerators and freezers lined up at two sites -- one in Harundale and one in Timonium -- for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s dry-ice giveaway.

In the Harundale Mall parking lot, residents stood in line, more than 100 deep, waiting for their rations of two 14-pound bags of dry ice each.

"It's been a big inconvenience. I went to the grocery store Friday and lost most of that," said Joyce A. Listman, 53, of Arnold. "You take cold showers and you can't cook."

Waiting in line with a blue clothes basket, Listman said that although she had lost all the food in her refrigerator, she hoped the dry ice could save the deer meat and seafood in the freezer before it spoils.

"You can't buy that at a grocery store," she said.

By late afternoon, 13,800 pounds of dry ice had been given out at Harundale Mall and at Dulaney High School, in Northern Baltimore County, said BGE spokeswoman Rose Muhlhausen.

BGE crews worked yesterday to restore power to most customers by last night, but workers would not be able to get to some remote areas until early today, BGE said.

By 11 p.m., power had been restored to all but 4,400 customers, most of them in Anne Arundel County, Muhlhausen said.

Hardest hit by the storm was Anne Arundel County, where about 25,000 customers lost power Saturday. Late last night, about 3,300 of them, mostly in the northern section of the county, were without. In Baltimore County, the second hardest hit, 700 residents had no electricity, BGE officials said.

At Harundale, Mary M. Cummings, 70, of Arnold stood in line for dry ice with a cooler, hoping to save her biannual shipment from Dutterer's Home Food Service delivered a few weeks ago.

Next to her in line, Duly, 26, of Glen Burnie said her power went out about the same time as Cummings' did. Since then, she said, "We haven't opened anything up."

About 20 feet ahead of them, thick-gloved workers shoveled two scoops of dry-ice pellets from gray tubs into sturdy brown paper bags.

The first supply of 7,800 pounds of dry ice ran out a few hours after the trucks arrived at 11 a.m. Throughout the afternoon, scores of people -- many carrying battered ice chests, bread crates and vinyl coolers -- waited almost two hours for a second delivery, and then a third shipment of dry ice.

By the second shipment, BGE representatives limited ice to two bags per person.

"These people have been real nice, especially with the delay," said Barry Branch, a driver for AAA Emergency Ice of Baltimore, which supplied the dry ice to BGE's customers.

Branch said each 10- to 14-pound bag will keep food cold for about 24 hours.

The storms blew east across Maryland on Saturday afternoon, downing trees and knocking out power. Jim Wiesmueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said the rainfall, which began about 4 p.m. and trailed off two hours later, varied throughout the area.

"As is typical with hit-and-miss storms, some areas got virtually nothing, and some got more than an inch and a half," Wiesmueller said. Baltimore-Washington International Airport reported 0.95 inches of rainfall and Riviera Beach in Anne Arundel County reported 2.39 inches, he said.

The scattered rainfall provided only a little drought relief, he said, and today's forecast calls for a clear, sunny day with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Pub Date: 8/16/99

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