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Hudson's Corner: Three weeks later, effects of derecho storm and more wet weather being felt

Because of the late June derecho, this is beginning to feel like the summer that wasn't. Many homeowners, neighborhood volunteers and leaders in Roland Park are still working to clean up and resolve problems created by the June 29 maelstrom in Baltimore.

More storms and heavy rain add to the disruption. Almost three weeks after the derecho struck, a Thursday night storm on July 19 knocked out power to one of the leafy community's problem quadrants. Our Beechdale Road neighbors and others, for a total of about 59 households, were out of power again from 4 a.m. to near 11 p.m. Friday, July 20.

These folks were also the ones whose power had not been restored for five days after the derecho darkened their homes and wiped out their refrigerators. Again they had to bring out the candles and flashlights, drive elsewhere for morning coffee, keep freezer and refrigerator doors shut and hope that this time they would not lose a lot of food.

Several residents I know are now so gunshy about using their refrigerators for anything but the basics that they have taken to shopping the European way: buying just what is needed on a daily basis. Forget making a double batch of something and freezing it for future meals. Shopping and cooking this way, however, is tedious and time-consuming, particularly in households where adults work full-time and feed their children every night.

For those who work from home, these power outages are wearing and costly. It is hard to keep computers running without power and hard to see to work on a cloudy, rainy day. The Roland Park Library is closed Fridays, so in the most recent outage, workers-from-home could not go there. I found one still at work on her computer at 6 p.m. in the Village Square Cafe in Cross Keys. Another knows that we have an open door policy and a small table set up with a surge protector.

Fortunately, temperatures on July 20 were cool enough, so no one roasted during the outage. For neighbors with physical disabilities, who depend on electricity for oxygen or lifts to move from second-floor bedrooms to the kitchen and out the door to work, generators are being seriously considered. Power outages seem more frequent and longer-lasting, even when tree limbs are not the issue.

The mess and danger of broken limbs, however, continues. More heavy trees have heaved out of saturated ground. Limbs high in the tree canopy, that had broken off in the derecho and had not yet been removed, continue to fall. Preventive maintenance seems to be taking place at some households. More is needed, particularly on trees that have reached maturity.

Let us hope that future preventive maintenance BGE undertakes will not be so severe that trees are maimed and weakened, as they have been in the past.

High temperatures and recent rains have combined to produce a bumper crop of weeds. Overgrown public space in the median between Petit Louis and the Roland Park Presbyterian Church, on Cold Spring Lane between Roland Avenue and Falls Road and on University Parkway from the Roland Park sign to Centennial Park, are all in serious need of weeding. Previously, seasonal weeding was handled by the companies, or individual workers, hired by Roland Park Roads & Maintenance.

With future traffic-slowing bumpouts in Roland Park to be installed with plantings, it is imperative that whatever company is contracted for community mowing and maintenance also do some pruning and weeding.

Additionally, it is imperative that homeowners take responsibility for shade trees near power lines and houses. With the September hurricane season on the horizon, now is the time to call arborists. Let's remember what the area looked like the day after the derecho and pick up the phone.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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