Roland Park sees familiar power outages as Sandy intensified

Thomas Inglesby is no stranger to power outages in the unit block of Beechdale Road in Roland Park. He's had dozens since he moved there in 2000, and they've come more frequently in recent years, he said.

But he's always been in the dark about why the electricity goes out so often, or why the lights stay on in houses on the other side of the street. He said that Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. doesn't know either, except to speculate that his house is in a "weak grid," as one BGE official told him last summer.

On Monday, as former Hurricane Sandy, now reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone, made landfall in southern New Jersey and lashed Maryland with rain and wind, Inglesby's power went out again.

"Our power is out on the Beechdale/Elmhurst (Road) section of the grid since this afternoon," he emailed Monday night. "As is always the case over recent years, the power is still on across the street from us on either side of our outage. We seem to go out early and unfortunately typically come on last."

Inglesby was one of at least two residents on Beechdale known to have lost power Monday. Beechdale is one of several streets in Roland Park where residents have complained about frequent and unexplained power outages. Others include Elmwood, Club and Edgevale roads.

In all, 58 houses in that area have been identified as outage-prone, and Beechdale resident Chris Corbett, who also lost power Monday, said houses behind him on Elmhurst also lost power in superstorm Sandy.

In the wake of hundreds of thousands of outages around the Baltimore region in June's sudden derecho storm, the Roland Park Civic League met with BGE officials this month to discuss outages that officials said might be linked to aging grids and trees that fall on power lines, among other possible explanations.

BGE officials told the league Oct. 4 they would begin addressing the issue in four to six weeks. But City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said last week that any BGE assistance wouldn't come in time to stave off outages in this week's storm.

Gould said before the storm there was no short-term relief that BGE could provide to Roland Park specifically.

"We're gearing up at a macro level," Gould said.

Clarke, who criticized BGE in the wake of the June storm and led efforts to improve communication between the utility company and communities, agreed BGE would have its hands full regionally.

"Their eyes are watching God," Clarke said before Sandy arrived. "All we can do is know who to call — and duck."

Inglesby, a veteran of outages, would like to be rid of them.

"We are hoping that BGE will provide a long-term remedy soon," he said.

Also frustrated is Corbett, who heard a transformer blow Monday afternoon and by nightfall had checked into the Radisson Hotel in the Village of Cross Keys.

"It's not somebody's imagination," he said of the constant outages in his neighborhood. "There's something systematically wrong."

On the bright side, there was little property damage or trees down in north Baltimore as the storm faded away Tuesday, other than a fallen tree on Greenway, another in Cross Keys and a third on East 34th Street in Waverly.

"The derecho was much worse in terms of damage," Corbett observed.

Mt. Washington Tavern, which was rebuilt after a fire last year and was scheduled to reopen this week, came through the storm fine and will open Nov. 5, publicist Mikey Monaghan said.

The nearby Jones Falls was running high but not overflowing Tuesday morning.

There was no damage or flooding at Union Memorial Hospital, where 140 "associates" stayed overnight Monday to see the hospital through the storm, said spokeswoman Debra Schindler.

There were few reports of power outages in north Baltimore, other than in Roland Park. Power was also out at York Courts in Guilford, according to Clarke.

The storm did cause some postponements. In the Oakenshawe area, a crane hoist scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30 at the Carrollton Apartments was put off, and city trash collection scheduled for Tuesday was rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3, said Mark Counselman, president of the Oakenshawe Improvement Association, citing notice from the Baltimore Department of Public Works.

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