McDonough, with the state's emergency-management agency, said a team of Mennonite volunteers is working with the National Guard and road crews to get downed trees off roads so the snow can be cleared.

In the Baltimore region, Baltimore County had the largest number of outages in the area as of Thursday morning — almost 8,000. The highest share of customers without power remained in Harford, almost 3 percent as of Thursday morning.

Chris Schlehr, the town administrator for Bel Air in Harford County, said Wednesday afternoon that the number of residents without power was sharply down from about 60 percent Monday night. That afternoon, traffic lights were out at one major intersection in town — police were directing traffic there, at Fulford Avenue and South Main Street — and Schlehr hoped that would be remedied before Thursday morning.

"We're just working hard to clean up the debris at this point and get on with business," he said.

For customers with wells, losing power means losing access to water, too. That was the problem bedeviling Michael and Janon Fisher on Wednesday as they crossed the 48-hour mark without electricity. They have 10 horses in need of water — the Fishers train and breed on a farm in Baltimore County — and they've run out of what they put aside in barrels and buckets before Sandy hit.

Janon Fisher has been driving to a nearby stream and filling buckets there, no easy task. The Fishers say they've found the downed wires that cut power on their road, but BGE warned them Tuesday that the electricity might not be back on until Thursday or Friday.

"In my youth, BGE would come out the same day and fix it and that would be the end of it," Michael Fisher said. "And now you have to wait."

Betsy Spiker Holcomb, who lives just outside the town of McHenry in Garrett County, is counting on a very long wait indeed. She lost power Monday evening and figures her outage could last more than a week.

She pulled her food out of her refrigerators, packed it into coolers and buried them in the snow, so she thinks she'll get through without spoilage. And because she has a gas-powered stove and fireplace, she can cook the food and stay warm.

But it's only because her brother owns a tractor with a snowblower that she was able to get out of her driveway. And when she crept down the mountain she lives on, navigating nearly impassable roads, she wondered if she should have stayed put.

"The roads are really bad," said Spiker Holcomb, a real estate agent who specializes in Deep Creek Lake vacation homes. "A lot of customers from your area are calling to check on their homes, but we haven't been able to get to them."

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector and Reuters contributed to this article.

  • Text BUSINESS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun Business text alerts