Area recovers from Ernesto

Crews restore power after tropical storm

September 04, 2006|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

Most Maryland residents saw sunny skies yesterday as public works and utilities crews continued clearing downed tree branches and reconnecting power lost in the first major storm of the hurricane season to hit the Mid-Atlantic region.

In Anne Arundel County, hardest hit in the Baltimore region by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto, two residents suffered carbon monoxide poisoning Saturday by running a generator in their home after losing power in the storm, emergency workers said.

By yesterday afternoon, BGE crews had restored power to about 90 percent of the 183,000 customers with storm-related outages, said spokesman Robert Gould.

"Without question" Anne Arundel County was the worst off, he said, because the storm's winds were strongest off the Chesapeake Bay.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens rescinded the Labor Day closing of landfill facilities, announcing that the Millersville landfill and Glen Burnie and Sudley convenience centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today - but only to take yard waste, tree limbs and storm debris.

"Given the magnitude of tree damage and debris left by high winds from Tropical Depression Ernesto, it's important that we meet the demand for service over the holiday weekend," Owens said.

The storm-generated wind gusts and high waves at Ocean City seemed not to scare off Labor Day weekend tourists, said Donna Abbott, the city's public relations director.

More than 250,000 people came to town last year for Labor Day weekend - summer's last hurrah - and Abbott said there was "no rash of cancellations" because of the weather this year. She did not expect to see a marked drop-off, though figures won't be available until tomorrow.

"Timing is everything," Abbott said. "It looks like the storm cleared out in time for us to have a pretty decent weekend."

Abbott personally attested to thick crowds yesterday on the beaches of Assateague Island, where she spent her afternoon.

Gould said BGE was helped in its emergency labors by an additional 200 workers from contractors and nearby utility companies - bringing the total number of utilities workers to 700 - as cleanup continued yesterday.

"The plus side is that Maryland has a beautiful landscape because of all of its trees," he said. "But those trees mean that when there are winds of a scale like we saw, there will be power outages."

While workers initially focused on public-safety issues such as downed power lines, Gould said crews had switched yesterday to "house to house" restoration mode, which he said can be time-consuming.

Still, he said, all but a few customers should have their power back by today.

Gould said the restoration work was concentrated in Anne Arundel - the only area with known storm-related injuries.

Two Arnold residents, a 55-year-old man and a 90-year-old woman, were hospitalized Saturday with carbon monoxide poisoning. A Fire Department spokesman said they were running a gasoline-powered generator inside their home, and a neighbor discovered them unconscious and called 911.

Their names were not released yesterday.

The woman was in serious but stable condition and the man was in good condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, said Lt. Alex Makris, a county Fire Department spokesman.

Makris urged residents to keep generators outside the home, outside attached garages and away from open doors and windows. He also said that residents affected by power outages should try to use flashlights instead of candles to avoid fires.

"Everything we advise is common sense," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.