In addition to downing trees and power lines, the storm caused significant agricultural losses, said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Earl "Buddy" Hance, who released a preliminary damage report Tuesday. About 200 acres of watermelons were lost and 600 acres of string beans could be un-harvestable, he said in a statement. Soybeans will actually benefit from the extra rain, he said. In Delaware, 30,000 chickens were killed during the storm, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.
After days of snarls, public transportation routes were cleared. The Maryland Transit Administration has fully restored all of its services except Light Rail, which it expects to have in complete operation Thursday.
And Baltimore area school districts, forced to delay opening for the new school year for two days, will open all schools that had power restored by late Tuesday afternoon. In both Baltimore City and Baltimore County, 20 schools will remain closed.
Anne Arundel County schools, which opened last week, will resume classes Wednesday in all but 15 schools that remained without power. In Harford County, all but 11 schools were to be open Wednesday.
Three schools in Howard County were still in the dark Tuesday, though the rest of the district began its school year. School officials urged parents to check for updates on the district's website at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.
Some residents who remained without power were running out of basic supplies by Tuesday afternoon.
Howard County gave out emergency food at its Dorsey building in Ellicott City and water rations to those without electricity. Vehicles from around the region trickled in to pick up ready-to-eat meals and bottled water. County officials requested the supplies Saturday, which were delivered Monday. MEMA said Howard was among the first to request the supplies; county officials distributed all 750 meals and 1,800 water bottles during Tuesday.
But some Western Howard County residents said the location was not convenient for them and their neighbors, many of whom need electricity to power their wells. Some of the roads were still impassible because of fallen trees and debris, said Glenelg resident Diane Mikulis.
Mikulis said she was prepared for an outage, filling her bathtub with water and purchasing food and supplies before the hurricane hit. But going on four days without power, her tub and other provisions are running dry, she said.
Without power, residents didn't have access to the Internet or television and limited access to phones to hear the announcements, said Lisa Feinberg, president of the Glenelg Manor Estates Homeowners Association, which has about 270 residents.
"Nobody knows to come here," she said. She and Mikulis were spreading the word by Facebook and text message.
County spokesman Kevin Enright said county officials were confident that the location, near major highways, would help the residents who were hit the hardest.
"The [outage] problems are overwhelmingly Ellicott City and more toward the east side of the county," he said. There were no plans to run another site in the western part of the county, although emergency officials may be able to address individual needs, Enright said.
Carla Dahle, 72, and her husband, William McQuay, 78, appreciated the ready-to-eat meals because they had been without power since Sunday morning. A neighbor, who is a county employee, told them about the distribution. He also let them plug McQuay's oxygen tank into his generator.
"It is quite a traumatic experience," particularly for seniors, she said.
She was hesitant to cook too much on her propane grill, wanting to conserve the gas.
Dahle also did not fault the utilities. "They gave enough warning to get ice, propane," she said.
Alicia Cox of Halethorpe drove to Ellicott City with her twins, Aadyn and Addyson, after her husband heard about the food distribution on the radio on his way to work.
The power outage has been difficult with the toddlers running around in the dark, she said.
"We've been doing a lot of early bedtimes," she said.
The power outage has added to the financial strain of having two little ones at home, Cox said. "It's hard to keep milk fresh," she said.
Cox wasn't upset about the delay in restoring her power. "People have had it a lot worse," she said.
But she hopes that BGE lives up to its estimate of Friday, so the power is back on in time for the twins' second birthday.
Due to erroneous information provided by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, an earlier version incorrectly reported that 30,000 chickens died in Maryland during Irene. A departmental spokeswoman said Wednesday the chickens died in Delaware when a chicken house flooded.
Baltimore Sun reporters Erica L. Green, Hanah Cho and Frank Roylance and Howard County Times reporter David Greisman contributed to this article.