U.S. Northeast sweats as power outages continue
Published Monday, July 2, 2012 7:14AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 7:25AM EDT
More than 2 million Americans are sweltering through a second day of 40-degree Celsius heat without electricity or air conditioning, after storms ripped through the mid-Atlantic region Friday, knocking out power.
From Virginia to New Jersey and as far west as Ohio, residents are trying to keep cool while utility workers rush to restore power to get air conditioners running again.
As many as 20 states were under heat advisories and warnings Monday as temperatures continued to soar.
Power crews from as far away as Florida and Oklahoma were on their way to the region but officials say the job will take time and the power could be out in some areas for several more days, reports CTV’s Joy Malbon.
“The crews are being called in to try to clean up this mess -- the downed trees, all those power lines – but it’ll take some time because it’s very labour-intensive to get it all cleaned up,” Malbon said from Washington.
“Most of the power companies say they think they can get everyone back online by Tuesday, but there is one power company in this region, Pepco, that says it could be after the Fourth of July holiday before everyone’s back up.”
With cellphone and Internet service spotty in many areas, officials throughout the region are urging residents to check on their elderly relatives and neighbours.
Along with the frustrations of the heat and the power outages, many workers are also trying to return to work without the benefit of traffic lights and many forms of mass transit.
All 86 subway stations in Washington were open, but commuters were told to expect significant delays because power was being routed through the system to serve blacked-out areas. Bus riders in the city were also told to expect to experience delays.
In an attempt to alleviate congestion around the capital, federal and state officials in Baltimore and Washington gave many workers the option of staying home. Maryland's governor also gave state workers wide leeway for staying out of the office.
"If you have to drive or need to drive, leave yourself a lot of extra time," Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said. "There's going to be delays."
To top off commuters’ frustration, gas stations are also shut down in some areas.
In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley promised he would push utility companies to get electricity restored as quickly as possible.
"No one will have his boot further up Pepco's and BGE's backsides than I will," O'Malley said Sunday afternoon, referring to the two main utilities serving Maryland.
In Waldorf, Md., Charles County emergency officials handed out free 40-pound bags of ice to anyone who needed them. In suburban Fairfax County, Va., residents cooled off on Sunday at pools, recreation centres, libraries, restaurants and shopping malls.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday’s storms and the ensuing heat has risen to at least 24.
With reports from The Associated Press