Severe storms leave tens of thousands without power

Noelle Joll went whitewater rafting with a group of girlfriends this past weekend in the Poconos, hoping for a respite from the record 100-degree temperatures and humidity that has been afflicting the Baltimore area.

But when she returned to her Anne Arundel County home early Monday, it was apparent a different kind of severe weather had struck: Sunday's fast-moving thunderstorm system, with high winds and torrential rains, caused four deaths and left thousands without power. It also sent a tree from her yard crashing through her roof, into her bedroom and across her bed.

" 'Oh my God, oh my God,' you just keep saying it repeatedly and hoping it will go away, and it didn't," said Joll, who works for the federal government and was on her porch Monday afternoon waiting for contractors to remove the tree. "You want to live in a forested area, you take your chances."

Across Maryland, thousands were still without power Monday night, with the bulk of the power outages in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties. A representative for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. estimated that electricity would be restored to most customers by Tuesday evening.

The waterfront Anne Arundel community of Herald Harbor was walloped by the storm. A jumble of trees, power lines and utility poles blocked the main road into the area, which is routinely hard hit in storms because of its many big trees.

David Clark, a welder for the Washington, D.C., Fire Department, and his wife, who works at the Naval Academy bookstore, stayed in their Herald Harbor home Monday, skipping work and "just sitting there with no clothes on mostly," in an effort to beat the heat. Others in the community deliberated what food to save by barbecuing it and what to toss in the garbage. Don An, owner of a package store in the community, said a generator was saving the foods in his freezer and dairy cases, but customers were buying warm beer.

Besides damaging homes, downing trees and knocking out power, Sunday's storms are also being blamed for at least four deaths.

Maryland Natural Resources Police said 63-year-old Warren Douglas Smith and another man were riding personal watercraft Sunday evening a half-mile south of the Bay Bridge when a storm blew in. The men were unable to reach shore at Sandy Point State Park and Smith was knocked off his craft. The other man picked up Smith and flagged down a tugboat. Smith, of Annapolis, was later pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Michelle Humanick, 44, of College Park died Sunday after a tree fell on the van she was driving, according to Prince George's County police. Police in Manor Township, near Lancaster, Pa., say an unidentified woman was apparently electrocuted by a fallen power line in her backyard Sunday afternoon. And in Loudoun County, Va., a 6-year-old boy died after a large section of a tree fell on him while he was walking with his family, authorities said.

An Arundel man was critically injured in a weather-related accident Sunday night. About 10:30 p.m., Josiah Elliott, 58, was directing traffic on Ritchie Highway, which was down to one lane in both directions at Moore Road, because repairs were being made to a damaged utility pole, according to police spokesman Justin Mulcahy. A pickup truck heading north, driven by Bradley Sonczewski, 34, of Dundalk, was towing a boat, and the boat's canopy snagged a telephone cable from the utility pole, Mulcahy said. The cable tore away and smacked Elliott, knocking him to the ground and causing him to hit his head on the ground. He was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was in critical condition Monday, according to hospital officials.

More than half of the nearly 15,000 BGE customers still without power by 6 p.m. Monday were in Anne Arundel County, where tree service and BGE trucks were roaming area roads.

According to the power company, about 8,400 customers in the county had no power, even though some 50,000 had had their power restored. Most other BGE customers without power were in Prince George's County where 3,800 had no electricity, though power had been restored to 25,000 customers.

Pepco reported nearly 5,000 outages in Washington and its Maryland suburbs.

BGE spokesman Rob Gould said most customers probably would have power restored by late Tuesday.

"It was an extremely violent storm," he said. "We have whole trees down on our power lines."

Anne Arundel County road crews took 104 calls of downed trees and branches between Sunday and noon Monday, said county spokesman Dave Abrams.

"The crews worked through the night dealing with trees and debris, clearing them from the roadways," he said.

The number of emergency calls to the Anne Arundel County Fire Department more than doubled from the usual 120 to 280 between 3 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday. That included 127 reports of downed wires and trees as well as wires ablaze in trees, said Division Chief Michael Cox.

Anne Arundel County did not officially open any "cooling centers," but officials reminded people seeking air conditioning that recreation and senior centers, libraries and firehouses are all options.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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