Schools, thousands of residents without power day after storm

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Hundreds of sweaty Anne Arundel County residents who were still without power after Tuesday's strong storm lined up in a parking lot outside an Annapolis mall yesterday, awaiting a truck carrying about 20,000 pounds of dry ice.

"I really don't know what good it will do. ... I've given up on the food in my refrigerator," said Joyce Nider, an Odenton resident who had been without power since 5:15 p.m. Tuesday but hoped the dry ice would help salvage some of the food in her freezer.

More than 13,000 residents in Anne Arundel and 14,000 combined in Howard and Prince George's counties remained without electricity yesterday evening, 24 hours after the storm toppled trees and left 15 area schools dark.

Some residents won't see their lights back on until tomorrow, said Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials, who added that 400 BGE employees and 500 contract workers from as far as Georgia were working to restore power.

Winds of nearly gale force uprooted trees in sections of Crofton and Davidsonville, which appeared to be among the areas hit hardest. Huge branches downed power lines and crushed transformers, leading to the widespread power outages. At the peak, about 93,000 Baltimore-area residents and 140,000 Washington-area residents were without power.

"The storm's impact was severe, due mostly to the high winds," said Stephen J. Woerner, manager of electric systems operations and planning for BGE. He said the last storm to leave as many customers without power was during Mother's Day weekend in 2000.

Schools closed

No one was seriously injured in Tuesday's storm or the ensuing outages, local public safety officials said. But Anne Arundel County firefighters handled 14 automobile accidents and about 20 calls related to downed trees.

About 12,000 students in four Howard County public schools and 11 Anne Arundel public schools got an unexpected holiday during the first week of classes when the storm left their buildings without power yesterday.

"It was unfortunate to have it impact so many schools on the second day of school, when kids are trying to get adjusted," said Jane Beckett-Donohue, an Arundel schools spokeswoman.

Some of the children whose schools were closed accompanied their parents yesterday to the parking lot of Westfield Shoppingtown mall in Annapolis, one of two BGE dry ice distribution centers. The other was at Bowie Free State Mall.

Distributing dry ice

BGE distributed about 214,000 pounds of dry ice yesterday at the two locations. Employees said they would resume distribution at the same sites this morning.

Severna Park resident Monika Glagola, who wore a straw hat and fanned herself, kept an eye on her youngest children, 3-year-old Luke and 5-year-old Megan, as she waited more than an hour for the ice truck to arrive.

Glagola said she had given the children long, cold baths and let them go to bed wet to help them keep cool through the night.

Riva resident Darleen Hildebrandt arrived at the ice site with a trash can, a shopping bag and several plastic containers.

"I've never had to get dry ice before," she said. "I had no idea what to bring," she said.

Sarah Maddox of Davidsonville had to drive under a large, uprooted oak tree - leaning precariously against other trees - to get to the dry ice.

She said downed trees crushed a transformer and snapped power and telephone lines in her neighborhood.

"I can handle being without power," she said as she sat in the front seat of her car awaiting dry ice. "But being without a telephone? Goodness, it almost makes me want to get a cell phone."

Sun staff writers Tricia Bishop and Laura Loh contributed to this article.

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