WASHINGTON -I n the central region of the U.S. Atlantic coast last Saturday, more than two million people were without power Saturday due to hurricane force winds that hit the area overnight.
It is expected that the power restoration in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia take up to five days. This can definitely a cause for distress as it comes at a time when the region is facing a heat wave above record levels.
“Repairing the damage is a monumental task. This is something that will take days, not hours,” said Ed McDonough, department spokesman of Maryland Emergency Management.
A series of powerful storms with winds over 128 mph and heavy rains accompanied by vivid lightning struck the area on Friday. This caused trees to fall and power lines to fail.
About 800,000 people in Maryland were without power. McDonough said that each county in the state have reported outages.
Karl Neddenien, Dominion Virginia Power spokesman, said that 700,000 people are without electricity due to “catastrophic damages” in Central and Northern Virginia.
In West Virginia, Governor Ray Tomblin declared a state of national emergency. The spokesman for the emergency management office in state said that about 672,000 people were without power.
In the District of Columbia, the company said that 68,000 Pepco customers were affected and that the power will not be fully restored until July 4.
Energy companies in the area have asked company personnel in neighboring states to help clear the damage and restore power.
Supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, and other establishments closed for lack of electricity. This generated long lines at the few businesses that are energy dependent. Additionally, a large number of roads were blocked Saturday by tree branches.
The Weather Service warned that the presence of moisture can possibly heighten temperatures even more. As such, they recommended for people to stay indoors, specifically where there is air-conditioning especially those with chronic conditions.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiated contacts with several affected states.
The Balance of Fatalities
According to authorities, at least 12 people have left the storm and heat wave in nine southern states and South Atlantic U.S.
Since the power outage disabled the use of residential air conditioning, temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius and high humidity on the east coast has complicated the situation.
On Saturday, Montgomery County, one of the most populated metropolitan area, imposed restrictions on outdoor water use because it can contribute to the heat wave.
President Barack Obama contacted the governors of Ohio, John Kasich, Maryland, Martin O’Malley, West Virginia, and also Earl Ray Tomblin, to offer condolences for the deaths and promise federal support.
Obama declared an emergency in West Virginia, which ensures the swift delivery of aid by the federal government. A similar declaration was made by Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia.