Power restored to majority of customers after windstorm

More than 90,000 had lost power in Baltimore region

February 26, 2011|By Edward Gunts, The Baltimore Sun

Utility crews worked throughout Saturday to restore electric service to thousands of people in the Baltimore region who lost power during the windstorm that caused extensive damage around the region a day earlier.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said it had restored power to more than 92,000 customers by Saturday night, though about 1,600 were still without service. Linemen, tree crews, call center and storm response staffers worked over the weekend, including hundreds called in from Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Spokesman Rob Gould said BGE expects to have power restored to most customers by late Sunday, with some scattered outages extending into Monday.

The area most affected was Anne Arundel County, where more than 25,000 customers lost power. About 23,000 Baltimore County customers and 19,000 in Baltimore City were affected, according to BGE.

Iredell Fontz, who lives in the 200 block of Beachwood Road in Pasadena, was still waiting for service to be restored Saturday afternoon. His power went out at exactly 3:00 p.m. Friday, he said, and had been out for more than 24 hours. As a result, he had no heat, electricity or water, since he uses well water and the well's electric pump was inoperative.

Fontz said he planned ahead by filling bottles with water for drinking and flushing the toilet. He said he was most worried about food spoiling in the refrigerator and his house getting cold at night.

'I'm existing. I'm coping," he said. "That's how I would put it."

Fontz's neighbor, George W. Beechener Jr., said he lost power, too, but he was not as inconvenienced. "I have a generator," he said.

Gould said the damage was extensive because of the severity of the winds and the length of the storm.

That combination "wreaked havoc on trees" around the area, causing some to come down on power wires, knocking out service. "It's really widespread," he said.

Gould and BGE Senior Vice President A. Christopher Burton said the company's Initial assessment indicates that Friday's windstorm caused more damage to the power system than last month's heavy, wet snow. About 1,250 workers were involved in the restoration effort, he said.

One reason the repairs were so time- and labor-intensive, Gould said, is that some large fallen trees had to be cleared before work could begin on the power lines. In some cases, falling trees knocked down utility poles as well as wires, and poles had to be replaced before the wires could be repaired, he said.

On Friday, the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory calling for gusts of 45 mph to 50 mph. But gusts reached nearly 70 mph in Baltimore City, 65 mph in Harmans in Anne Arundel County, 67 mph in Westminster in Carroll County and 65 mph in Dundalk.

The blustery weather came less than a week after strong winds tore through the area and spread several brush fires. One in Anne Arundel County drew more than 100 firefighters; another closed down a section of Interstate 95 near the Capital Beltway.


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