1.8M Still Without Power
And it could still be days away for some, utility companies warn
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2012 7:18 AM CDT
Baltimore city worker Joe Lane gives away free bags of ice to residents on Monday, July 2, 2012. Around 1.8 million still don't have power.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – Three-and-a-half days after devastating thunderstorms tossed trees like twigs across a swath of the Mid-Atlantic, utility crews are still scrambling to restore power to some 1.8 million customers, reports the AP. Says a utility crewmember pulling 16-hour days in Washington, DC, "From here we've got another complaint." And another. And another. Complicating the outages are sweltering temperatures endangering the sick and elderly stuck without air-conditioning or, in some cases, the means to call for help, reports the Washington Post, which notes that as of yesterday, much of Northern Virginia's 911 services were still down. Maryland said yesterday that three people died in the heat wave.

Adding to the hurricane-like devastation of the storm—called a derecho, or straight-line thunderstorm—was its suddenness, which gave utility companies no time to get extra workers in place. That's left tempers soaring along with the mercury as back-up crews trickle in from Oklahoma and even Canada; utility companies say full restoration could still be days away. "It seems as if they're always unprepared," fumed one Marylander, while Gov. Martin O'Malley vowed that "no one will have his boot further up Pepco's and BGE's backsides than I will." Others are more patient: "They're doing as much as they can," says a nurse watching crews work.