Washington may be without power for days
The huge storm that hit the Washington, D.C. area on Friday night cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents and the power companies are saying that service won't be restored to everyone for perhaps a week.
Daybreak Sunday found 789,358 in the Washington region still without power, facing another sweltering day and the prospect of returning to work Monday before electricity is restored to their homes.
Many roads made impassable by fallen trees and the power lines they took down were reopened by Sunday as crews worked through the night to clean up the tangled aftermath of the storm that struck before midnight Friday.
The region's three utilities said they were making progress in turning the lights on again, but they cautioned that broken branches and hanging limbs continued to topple onto power lines, causing blackouts for people who thought they have weathered the storm unscathed.
Temperatures Sunday were forecast to reach close to 100 degrees, continuing a heat streak that began on Friday.
Facing the prospect of days without electricity, hundreds of thousands of area residents spent Saturday dragging fallen trees from yards and streets, keeping cool in swimming pools and movie theaters, and searching in vain for open gas stations or outlets to charge their cellphones.
The storms caused at least five deaths in the region. Two elderly women were crushed by trees that fell through their roofs, two drivers were killed in their cars by fallen trees, and a man was electrocuted by a downed power line. An Alexandria man whose boat capsized in the Chesapeake Bay was missing and believed to have drowned.
States of emergency were declared in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Emergency vehicles and crews raced to clear debris from hundreds of roadways, secure downed power lines, and restore electricity to hospitals, nursing homes and other critical facilities.
With 100+ degree days ahead and no air conditioning, much of the area is looking for alternatives. A modern American city without power for days is an extremely dangerous situation. Refrigerated food is already going bad and frozen food will go rancid in another couple of days. This represents huge losses for grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, and food warehouses. Power companies will be paying out millions of dollars in damages to these companies and individuals.
Congress is not in session, but they have generators so it wouldn't matter. But the rest of Washington is paralyzed and will be for the first part of this week.