In the costly, destructive aftermath of Tropical Storm Isabel, recovery efforts turned grim yesterday with the deaths of two out-of-state utility workers and the carbon monoxide poisoning of a father and young daughter in Anne Arundel County, bringing the total in the state to six.
With more than 688,000 households and businesses still without power, residents from Fells Point to Annapolis and sodden waterfront communities throughout the region and along the Chesapeake Bay were still clearing away mud and debris - while those along the Potomac in Western Maryland scrambled as floodwaters threatened.
Marylanders strove to redefine life as usual, delivering mail on still-flooded streets by firetruck, stretching extension cords to neighbors still without power and even dealing with a school of minnows discovered swimming in a state park's restroom.
Downtown Annapolis businessmen began costly repairs, Inner Harbor restaurateurs threw out spoiled food, and Havre de Grace officials grappled with at least $2.5 million in damage in the heart of its tourist district.
It was a bittersweet day for many touched by the storm. Baltimore area residents drove down formerly submerged streets, only to find electronic equipment beyond repair. They took comfort that their families were safe, before cursing the destruction of their custom-made furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting.
"We actually thought it was going to be worse," said Meghan Rasmussen, who was helping a Fells Point carpet store's owner as he took rugs to friends' porches to dry out.
The latest deaths were of unidentified utility workers who were electrocuted.
At 4:30 p.m., an electrical worker based in Savannah, Ga., was killed while clearing brush from a live wire behind a home in the 12600 block of Kavanaugh Lane in Bowie, Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady said.
More than two hours earlier, at 2:10 p.m., a contract worker from out of state was electrocuted when he touched a live wire on Cranwood Court in Stevenson, said Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost.
Earlier in the day, Ronald Michael Hall, 22, of Pasadena, and his 3-year-old daughter, McKayla Raeanne Hall, were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide from an improperly ventilated emergency generator, Anne Arundel County firefighters said.
Father and daughter were in cardiac arrest when firefighters entered their home in the 7800 block of Catherine Ave. at about 6:30 a.m., and they were pronounced dead at North Arundel Hospital. Crystal Rosendale, 20, a friend who was visiting, was found unconscious but breathing. She was listed in serious condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
The dead man found Friday in Turners Station was identified by Baltimore County authorities as William Charles Biewer, 27, of the 8200 block of Peach Orchard Road.
More flooding feared early this morning along the Potomac River in Western Maryland suggested that Isabel's toll was far from over.
But as floodwaters receded from Baltimore's waterfront to Annapolis' City Dock to Havre de Grace's Seneca Pointe, Central Marylanders began the steady march toward normality.
Yesterday afternoon, 850,000 utility customers were without power, Maryland officials said. But crews working around the clock had restored power to another 182,000 customers by last night, the utilities reported, though sometimes at the expense of temporarily cutting off electricity to others. BGE and Pepco officials said everyone's power wouldn't be completely restored until Friday.
On the Eastern Shore, ferry service resumed between the town of Crisfield and Smith Island, whose 300 residents still lacked power and telephone service.
And firetrucks sloshed down the street in Church Creek, which was cruised by motor boats a day earlier. The trucks delivered mail through the marshy, remote area near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to Fishing Creek, Crapo, Wingate and other isolated communities.
"Of course, everybody has seen on TV news with boats going down the street somewhere during a flood, but it's a whole lot different when it's your street," said Tina McWilliams, a postal clerk in Church Creek, where the roads were clear. "I almost think the worst of it here was after the water went down a little, and it got dark [Friday] night and the mosquitoes came out with a vengeance."
Like Williams, many Marylanders started surveying the damage yesterday and realized Isabel's departure didn't mean an end to their problems.
In Cecil County, Perryville lacked potable water. Barbara Brown, one of the town commissioners, said that the water plant stopped functioning sometime during the storm. A backup generator burned out, so the town is without potable water until another generator can be found.
In addition, the town hall and many of its citizens were without telephone service.