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Posted at 09:28 AM ET, 08/28/2011

Hurricane Irene aftermath: Dispatches from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District

Washington Post staff are filing reports about Hurricane Irene as she moves up the East Coast. Follow along here for the latest news affecting the Washington region.

6:20 p.m. Outages decreasing, but still in hundreds of thousands

Pleasant weather allowed utility companies to repair thousands of power outages Sunday, but hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the D.C. region were still in the dark by the evening, 24 hours after Hurricane Irene first brought heavy winds and rain to the area.

The outage numbers “exceeded expectations” in Maryland and Virginia, utility company spokesmen said.

While the utilities were reluctant to make estimates as assessments were underway, officials acknowledged it could take more than a week to restore power to some parts of the area.

“We’re not saying anything at this point other than this is most definitely going to be a multi-day restoration effort,” said Bob Gould, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas & Electric, which predicted up to 500,000 outages but actually experienced more than 600,000.

As of 6 p.m., more than 30,000 customers in the District, 200,000 in the Baltimore area, 150,000 in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and 100,000 in Anne Arundel County were still without power. Total outages for the region’s three major power companies were:Pepco ,162,927; Dominion, 787,196; BG&E, 439,761, according to the companies’ Web sites.

Those numbers were lower than outage numbers reported Sunday morning, although not by much. BG&E reported it had restored power to more than 175,000 customers since the storm began Saturday morning, but outages were still nearly three times that.

As for the District’s biggest power provider, Pepco, the jury was still out about how much the company learned from past mistakes.

After more than a year of criticism and reviews by utility regulators regarding a poor record of reliability, Pepco officials acknowledged Friday the storm would be a major “test” for the company.

Company employee Andre Francis spent Sunday filing frequent updates about outages on the company’s Twitter account. Francis responded to specific customers, including many upset with the company’s response to the storm.

While some customers took to Twitter and Facebook to thank Pepco for restoring their power, others were unhappy with the company’s response.

Among those was Eve Simon, a 41-year-old Silver Spring resident.

“It’s frustrating,” Simon said in an interview outside her home at about 2 p.m. Sunday. She noted that she takes medication that needed to be refrigerated and was currently sitting in a cooler

“They made a big deal out of improving after the blizzard, but then there’s this.”

Simon’s power was restored later Sunday, she reported on Twitter.

“Oh electricity,” she tweeted. “How I missed you.”

Get the latest power outge numbers here.


5:40 p.m. Fourteen D.C. schools without power

Fourteen District public schools are still out of power, DCPS announced Sunday evening.

Officials are planning to release an update later Sunday on outages. Schools with no power won't open Monday, but other schools in the city are planning to open as scheduled.

One school that definitely won’t open is School Without Walls High School, which is still dealing with damage from the earthquake earlier int the weak. Students will report to Eastern High School on Monday.

The list of schools with outages: Anacostia Senior High School, Beers Elementary School, Burroughs Education Center, Coolidge High School, Mann Elementary School, Orr Elementary School, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School (Adams), Savoy Elementary School, Stanton Elementary School, Thomas Elementary School, Turner Elementary School @ Green, Whittier Education Center, LaSalle-Backus Education Center and Winston EducationCenter.

See an updated list of Monday’s closings of schools, colleges, government buildings and entertainment venues here.


4:55 p.m. Prince George’s County considers closing government buildings

Because of high water in Upper Marlboro, the Prince George’s County seat, officials are assessing whether the county administration building and the county courthouse nearby will be open for business on Monday.

“The government will be open,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). Whether officials will report to Upper Marlboro or elsewhere will be determined later Sunday night.

The county administration building also houses the offices of the County Council and the county’s park and planning agency, as well as some judges’ offices. The courthouse is nearby and is a large complex with District Court, Circuit Court and the offices of the state’s attorney, which is the county prosecutor’s office.


4:40 p.m. Gray holds afternoon news conference

At 4 p.m., Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) held a news conference at Kennedy Recreation Center, where two families sought shelter and stayed overnight Saturday due to the storm.

Gray reflected on the eventful week — Monday’s opening of schools, Tuesday’s earthquake, the decision to postpone the King memorial dedication and Saturday’s hurricane. “There’s a movie in here somewhere,” he joked.

Gray announced that School Without Walls, shuttered after damage from the earthquake, should reopen as early as Tuesday. (Students will attend class Monday at Eastern High School.)

As of Sunday afternoon, 13 schools remained without power, but Gray said he hoped Pepco would restore power for Monday. “We cannot have those kids sitting at home tomorrow,” Gray said.

The Department of Public Works will pick up debris and limbs from residences, beginning Monday through Aug. 2. DPW requested that the limbs be cut into four-foot pieces and bundled. After that, residents can put the debris is their regular trash for pickup.


4:25 p.m. O’Malley visits shelters

Following morning television appearances and a press briefing, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) spent the balance of Sunday visiting state shelters and conferring with federal officials by phone, aides said.

O’Malley, who spent Saturday night at Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Reistertown, met with college-aged students at two of the four state-run shelters set up in response to Irene. Most of the young adults had been evacuated from Ocean City, where they hold seasonal jobs. They were being bused back to the largely spared beach town on Sunday.

O’Malley later spoke by phone with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and took part in a larger conference call with FEMA officials and leaders of impacted states. Aides said O’Malley returned to Annapolis Sunday afternoon.

Maryland Lt Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) took part in an aerial damage tour Sunday that focused on St. Mary’s County, the hardest-hit jurisdiction in the state, and the Calvert Cliffs area.

“The significant challenge that remains are the power outages,” said O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzese.


4:00 p.m. No Amish paradise

Shavonne Brown, 28, of Upper Marlboro, Md., said her family is probably going to move into a hotel until the power returns.

“The Amish life isn’t for us,” said Brown, a middle school teacher who lives with her parents. “No electricity. We can’t do it.”

The outage, which started at about 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon and continued throughout Sunday, forced Brown to cancel plans to celebrate her birthday, which occurred on the day of the earthquake.

“It’s been a great week,” Brown joked. “What are you going to do? I’m still alive.”

In place of the birthday celebration, Brown said she spent Saturday night playing the card game Phase 10 with her parents for more than three hours.

And Sunday morning?

“We played Phase 10 again,” she said.


3:42 p.m. Flight delays into Monday

All three area airports remain open on Sunday, though flight cancellations continue to cause problems for travelers. Scores of flights scheduled to arrive at or depart from Baltimore Washington International Airport on Sunday have been canceled, and the same is true for arrivals and departures from Reagan National and Dulles International airports.

“Flights are arriving and departing,” BWI airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. “That being said, delays and cancellations will continue throughout the day.”


(REUTERS)
He warned that travelers should expect delays to last into Monday. Crowds were light but increasing at Baltimore on Sunday afternoon as the sun peeked through the clouds shortly after 1:30 p.m.

Dulles and Reagan National both have flights coming and going, said Courtney Mickalonis, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. She warned that cancellations remain widespread and are likely to continue on Monday. “Things are starting to get back to normal, but it’ll take another few days before it’s completely back on schedule.”

US Airways, the dominant carrier at Reagan National, had canceled all of Sunday’s scheduled flights to and from the airport. As a result, that airport was relatively uncrowded on Sunday.

Travelers should contact their airlines directly to see about flight status and rebooking. For a list of airlines serving the region, visit Dr. Gridlock.


3:33 p.m. Constellation works to restore 1 of 2 Calvert Cliffs nuclear reactors in Irene’s wake

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group says crews are working to get Unit 1 of its Calvert Cliffs facility back up after it automatically went off-line during Hurricane Irene.


Control room operators monitor activity at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Md., in this photo from March. (Marvin Joseph - The Washington Post)
Spokesman Mark Sullivan said Sunday morning that a large gust of wind overnight sent a piece of aluminum siding from a nearby building crashing into the main transformer of the facility in Lusby.

He says Unit 2 is operating at full power and the entire complex is safe and stable. He says the event cut the facility’s electricity output in half.

Sullivan says an unusual event has been declared. That’s the lowest of four emergency classifications by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


3:26 p.m. A spontaneous walk in Northern Virginia

Hurricane Irene was gone. But the power was still off in Todd Simpson’s home off King Street near Interstate 395. So, the single father of two took his daughters on a spontaneous Sunday morning walk and had brunch at their favorite eatery at a local strip mall to pass the time.

“It’s really more like a Saturday thing I do with them-- run errands or take them out for breakfast or something,” said the 42-year-old IT consultant, referring to his daughters, Sara and Tiffany, aged 6 and 4. “Usually on Sunday mornings I’m at home watching the sports or political shows before I prepare for the week. Not a big deal, but since it’s nice out, and I can’t turn on the computer, I figured I’d do what I usually do on Saturdays and do it today. Besides, we were all starting to get restless. I guess it’s me trying to salvage the weekend.”

Many Northern Virginians who were without power Sunday took advantage of a post-Irene beautiful early Sunday afternoon and do what they couldn’t a day before. At the Bradlee Center on King Street in Alexandria, Tom and Alex Franklin took a break from a late-morning bike ride to grab a water and Gatorade while they waited for power to return to their South Arlington home. Jack Davis busily worked on his laptop and checked the Sunday newspapers at Starbucks. All three were out and about, waiting for the power to come back on in their Northern Virginia homes.

“On the scale of inconveniences, this is pretty low,” said Davis, 52, a car salesman. “It’s a drag about power, but the weather today certainly helps make this easier to deal with.”

Over in McLean, an area that Dominion Power officials said had a number of neighborhoods and subdivisions without power, several groups of people eating at restaurants at the Salona Village Shopping Center said they wanted to get away from silent and darkened homes.

“Really, I needed to get out of the house after yesterday and all the talk about doom and gloom,” said Patsy Tanner, 61, a retired social worker. “And look at it outside. It’s a new day.”


3:16 p.m. The view from Silver Spring

In eastern Silver Spring, hundreds of houses were still without power at 2 p.m. Sunday. The area often experiences outages during storms.

“No news here,” quipped Miki Bell, a 42-year-old communications consultant. “It’s just sad when you can legitimately plan for the power going out. It’s second nature.”

The continued outages drove Bell and many residents onto the streets on a sunny afternoon.

“I’ve never seen this many people outside actually,” said Matthew Fagan, 31, who had just finished going for a run. “It’s kind of relaxing, actually.”

Two streets over, Lana Corrigan led a group of seven small children around her Piney Branch neighborhood, surveying the damage.

“This is a neighborhood event,” the 43-year-old health product business owner said. “It’s our neighborhood. We want to know what’s going on.

“Plus there is no indoor entertainment for the kids right now,” she added, gesturing to the children – a mix of her own and those of two of her friends – running and chatting loudly around her. “And that’s a positive thing.”

The merry mood of the group lessened as they approached the crowded front yard of Maggy Sterner. Behind a dozen people eating sandwiches stood the remnants of Sterner’s home, which had been essentially split in half by a large tree.

Sterner, a 56-year-old web and technology consultant, said she “just happened not to be in bed, by accident” when the tree fell into the house at 2 a.m. Sunday. If she had been in her room, she felt she would have died.

Several family members, friends and neighbors gathered on Sterner’s front yard Sunday afternoon, trying to console the homeowner.

“These trees are such an asset to our neighborhood,” said a friend and neighbor, Rebecca Willis, while giving a back massage to another friend. “But they are also so dangerous.”

Sterner said she did not know what would happen to her home.


3:06 p.m. ‘Like Jurassic Park back here’

Scott Dugan walked in the backyard of his Alexandria home in the middle of the night and couldn’t help feeling he was in a movie.

“It looks like Jurassic Park back here,” he said.


Scott Dugan surveys the damage after two large trees fell in his Alexandria neighborhood. (Bill O'Leary - WASHINGTON POST)
Two giant trees – that when standing were perfectly spaced to hold a hammock – were uprooted and lying on their sides. The bottom half of them, their roots spilling out, sat in Dugan’s yard; the other half in his neighbor’s. With the trees, an oak and a hickory, power and cable lines also came down, cutting off electricity for blocks.

Dugan said he and his wife had just returned from California on Saturday in time to grab supplies for the storm. They and their neighbors say the power went out after midnight, when they think one of the trees fell. The other followed not long afterward, according to neighbor Peter Kuhmerker, whose house it fell on.

“At 1 o’clock I heard it – just a low thud,” Kuhmerker said. If there was a reason to be grateful, he said, it was because the 100-foot-plus tall trees fell at an angle, causing minimal damage. Now, he said, it’s just a matter of waiting. It could take crews days to remove the trees, which will cost him and Dugan each thousands of dollars in insurance deductibles, and then Dominion can work on getting the lines back up. “You’re in a wait state because there’s nothing you can do. Just write the check at this point.”

After a major storm last year, the neighborhood was without power for three days and during after the last hurricane, more than 5 days, Kuhmerker said. This time, he said, he expects it will take at least a couple days.

“I’d be happy with three,” he said.

As for Dugan, despite the circumstances, he also appeared the picture of calm. No one was hurt, he said. And even though his house had no power, he said, his children, ages 5 and seven month, remained safe in Texas with their grandparents whom, they had gone to visit.

“My wife and I are going to try to enjoy the rest of the day,” Dugan said. “Maybe we’ll go out to a nice lunch somewhere.”


1 p.m. MLK memorial still a draw despite canceled events; no additional damage to Washington monument

Dozens of people are visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the morning it was supposed to be dedicated by President Barack Obama. On Facebook, one group was planning a 3 p.m. flas h mob.

Sunday’s dedication was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. By 11 a.m. when the ceremony would have begun, the rain had stopped and fallen leaves were cleared out of the memorial plaza.

James Carter of Columbus, Ohio, says he was visiting family in Washington and only got to see the memorial because of the hurricane. He says he didn’t have a ticket to the dedication ceremony.

When he saw the 30-foot sculpture of King for the first time, Carter said it gave him goose bumps.

The National Park Service says the memorial took on a small amount of water during the storm but sustained no damage.

Park service spokesman Bill Line says some water “splashed up” onto the memorial from the Tidal Basin. But he says there was no damage and notes that the memorial, like others on the Tidal Basin, was designed to withstand flooding

Line says there was no additional damage to the Washington Monument. Several cracks formed in the top of the monument during Tuesday’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake.


Visitors to the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the Tidal Basin are reflected in a puddle of rainwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. (Bill O'Leary - THE WASHINGTON POST)


12:50 p.m. Local teen killed in North Carolina car crash; woman crushed by chimney in Queen Anne County

Goldsboro, N.C., police say Katherine Morales, a 15-year-old Manassas Park High School student, died Saturday afternoon after the SUV carrying her and family members collided with another SUV at an intersection where Irene had knocked out power to traffic lights, USA Today and Inside Nova report. The victim and other family members were thrown from their SUV, and occupants of both vehicles were taken to the hospital. The girl's family was returning to from a vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

In Queen Anne County, Md., a woman died as Hurricane Irene passed through over Maryland when a tree fell on the chimney of her house, knocking it onto the woman and crushing her, according to Quentin Banks, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management Agency.

“The Queen Anne Sheriffs Department is investigating the incident,” said Banks adding that there could have been more deaths if residents had not taken warnings about the storm seriously. “The governor communicated to the people of Maryland, they understood, and they took the storm seriously.”


12:45 p.m. Virginia Beach thankful for limited impact.

To many Virginia Beach residents, Hurricane Irene turned out to be a blowhard, packing much less punch than people had feared.

And they were relieved about it.

“I wouldn’t say it was a nonevent,” said Craig Petersen, 49, a captain in the Navy who rode out the tropical storm in the low-lying neighborhood of Sandbridge. “It could have gone the wrong way.”

By 9 a.m., Virginia Beach officials ended the mandatory evacuation order for Seabridge and Knotts Island, on the North Carolina border, but they continued to close traffic to the public on Sandbridge Road to assess damage further. But with the sun out and foaming sea now a dappled sheet of glass beyond the breakers, a sense of normality returned.

Near the downtown strip, surfers paddled out soon after sunup to ride long, curling breakers, and people toured the boardwalk looking for signs of damage. Public beaches reopened, and lifeguards were to be back on duty by noon.


Momchil Fornigov removes plywood that had been covering the sign in front of his motel. Things were getting back to normal in the area the day after Irene hit Virginia Beach. (Michael S. Williamson - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Along streets filled with hotels and tourist traps, the howl of hurricane force winds was replaced by the whine of battery-powered drills as shopkeepers removed sheets of plywood from their windows. Real estate agency employees visited seaside homes carrying checkboards and cameras to document how their rentals fared.

Although the wooden pier lost a section, most damage in the business district seemed minor. All but one major road and some secondary roads were open, and city officials assured residents that there was no need to boil water because the supply had been unaffected by the storm.

Hardest hit was Sandbridge Beach, a sliver of land extending south from the city,and that was hit by a microburst of high wind spun off from the tropical storm on Saturday morning. The mini-twister destroyed at least one home on Sandfiddler Road and damaged several others.

“It sounded like a hot rod coming down the street,” said Tony Lighthart, 56, a city employee who has lived on Sandpiper Road for three decades.

“You could feel the change: When that came through, everything started to shake. It was worse than the earthquake,” said his wife, Dougie Lighthart, an elementary school counselor and volunteer EMT. The Lightharts said a flying plank hit their roof and they lost some windows on the leeward side because they had not been covered with plywood. But otherwise, they came through okay.

“It looks like we actually have less damage down here than I’ve seen in 30 years of hurricanes,” Dougie Lighthart said.


Denise Robinson salvages some dishes from her home, which was condemned after it sustained heavy damage yesterday as a result of Hurricane Irene. (Michael S. Williamson - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Perhaps the most severely damaged house belonged to Casey and Denise Robinson. They returned early Sunday with friends to salvage belongings from what was left of their 3-story beach home after the microburst ripped off the roof and seaward walls.

Looters ripped off some things too, including a vintage aerial photograph of Sunbridge and some bottles of vodka, according to the Robinsons and police.

“We were going to take our vodka, but somebody took that last night,” Casey Robinson, 54, said, picking through debris in a scene with oddly incongruent vignettes of destruction.

On its glass-strewn upper floor, rafters poked through a gaping holes of the roof above beds that were still neatly made; an outside wall of a bathroom had been sheared off, and it seemed to list, but a flowerpot filled with seashells rested neatly atop the toilet.

Bits of yellow insulation clinging to the trees and other debris showed the shoreward path the mini-twister had taken through the neighborhood before peeling off the roof of another house a block over on Sandpiper Road.

The couple, who own a computer company, said they felt fortunate that it was only their house that had been lost.

“This can all be rebuilt,” Denise Robinson said. “This is just stuff.”

Dougie Lighthart said she felt, in a superstitious way, as if she might bear some responsibility because of something she had said right before the storm about the confluence of recent natural disasters, including a recent fire in the area’s Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

“I said, ‘We have had a wildfire, a hurricane, and an earthquake. All we need is a tornado and a volcano to happen to complete it,’ ” she said. “I feel like it’s my fault.”


11:55 a.m. Photos: Damage in D.C.


Three row houses in the 500 block of R St. NW have suffered severe damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. (Megan Rossman - THE WASHINGTON POST)

Meanwhile, Post reporter Nikita Stewart sends along this image of mayor Vincent Gray examining a home at Idaho Avenue NW and Quebec Street NW that was hit by both trees and a utility pole.



11:55 a.m. Ocean City gets back to business

Ocean City was rapidly springing back into its summer pitch. Officials opened island access to business owners, residents and workers at 9 a.m. and streets that had been nearly deserted for 36 hours filled rapidly. Visitors will be allowed at noon, as city officials rush to take advantage of what Mayor Rick Meehan called a “dodged missile” and get the tourist town’s beach-based economic turbines spinning again. 


A large sand drift rests on the boardwalk caused by Hurricane Irene in Ocean City, Md. Hurricane Irene made landfall in Ocean City early Sunday morning causing minimal damage. (Ricky Carioti - THE WASHINGTON POST)
By 11 a.m, the sun was out and the wind was barely enough to ruffle the windbreakers of TV reporters doing their final stand-ups on the sidewalk outside the Hilton. The beaches, which were open, were already covered with returnees hunting through the tide litter of shells and seaweed left by 15-foot waves.

The breakers, though now much smaller and officially off-limits until lifeguard crews return Monday morning, also were filled in many places with opportunistic surfers and boogie-boarders. 

The last retail business to close Saturday afternoon, a 7-11 at 119th Street, was also the first open Sunday morning. The owner said he stayed on the island overnight to be ready when the winds died down. Some of the first customers mixed relief at the good condition of the town with eye-rolling regarding the media hype and the mandatory evacuation order. 

Officials know some will accuse them of overreacting. “People will think that, but based on the forecast and the information we had, it was absolutely the right thing to do,” said police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “It was only by the grace of God that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been."


11:50 a.m. Post assignment editor sends along this photo from G Street NE, captioned “lucky Mercedes owner.”



11:30 a.m. Neighborhood manages outages with long extension cords.

On North Overlook Drive in Alexandria, for a few hours in the morning, extension cords stretched from one side of the block — where residents had lost power — to the other side, where residents hadn’t. Residents in this Beverly Hills neighborhood, where the powerlines are nestled in the trees, have grown used to outages and often help one another out.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember,” said Dave Lloyd, 68, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1986. He lost power at about 1:30 a.m. and said he walked the extension cord from his house to his neighbor’s house sometime after 7 a.m. “When that side goes out, we do the same for them.”

The borrowed electricity, he said, was enough to keep the fridge going and a few lights on. But sometime after 9 a.m., residents said the fire marshal’s office came and told them the cords were a hazard and would have to be removed. Now, Lloyd said, it’s a matter of waiting on Dominion. Residents suspect the outage resulted after a tree fell on a nearby house, bringing down the power line.

The last hurricane, Isabel, I think it was six days we were without power,” Lloyd said. “This time, I suspect it could be a couple days. There’s not much you can do except wait.”

But because it’s a neighborhood where people worry about others, he walked, flashlight in hand, toward the house of a neighbor who was out of town. He wanted to make sure the basement hadn’t flood.

Meanwhile Joan Smith, 39, emerged from her nearby house with her 6-month-old son Stephen in her arms. She knocked on a neighbor’s door across the street to ask if she could use his phone to call Dominion. Her house had also lost power and her cell phone was dead.

“We might end up going to my in-laws’ in Leesburg,” Smith said. She also has a 2 1/2 year old to worry about. “My son already asked, ‘Why can’t we open the refrigerator?’ ”

After handing the phone back to her neighbor, she asked if she could also put a few items in his fridge. He not only said yes, he followed her inside to help her carry them.


11:30 a.m. Metro on normal schedule, but power may be out to some elevators, escalators.

Metro said its ridership on the rail system was down about 67 percent yesterday compared to last Saturday. According to the agency, 128,390 customers entered the rail system yesterday, compared to 345,425 on Aug. 20.

Today, Metro is running its bus, rail and MetroAccess service for disabled customers on a regular Sunday schedule. The rail system opened at 7 a.m. There is no scheduled track work being done today.

Metro warns that customers needing elevator access are advised to check wmata.com before they travel to check on the status of the elevators. Metro said escalators and elevators may be “temporarily impacted by local power issues.”

Read more on Dr. Gridlock .


11:10 a.m. Irene slams Hyattsville center managing response to Irene.

No one, it seems, is immune from effects of a hurricane, not even officials working at Prince George's County's emergency operations center at the fire services building in Hyattsville.

First the center lost electricity. It had to operate on generator power, as did a dozen Prince George’s County fire stations and two police stations. The county has since moved operations to the 911 call center in Bowie.

And early this morning a 100-year-old tree fell on two cars of people working inside the building, causing substantial damage.

"It was kind of ironic,” said fire and rescue spokesman Mark Brady. "You are in there doing your job and this happens."

The fallen tree also blocked access in and out of the building until about 5 a.m., Sunday when county workers were able to cut it up and remove the debris, Brady said.

Scott Peterson, a county spokesman, said in an e-mail that one of the affected workers came out, looked at his car, realized it was severely damaged, and went back in to work.

"It was amazing," he said, of the cool demeanor of Mow Soung Cheng, a county official.

Overall, Prince George's County fire and rescue received about 740 calls, during the storm, "about what we expected," Brady said.

Early this morning, a townhouse fire in Capitol Heights displaced a family of nine who had been burning a candle after losing power. All were evacuated safely, Brady said.


10:50 a.m. Though 823,000 are without power, Md. handled Irene well, O’Malley says.

About 823,000 people in Maryland are without power and about 200 roads are closed because of Hurricane Irene. But all things considered, “we fared pretty well through this,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Sunday morning as he briefed reporters on the storm.

O’Malley said only one death in Maryland had been attributed to the hurricane. It occurred, he said, as a result of a fallen tree and chimney collapse in Queen Anne’s County.

O’Malley said the 823,000 power outages far exceed the number that resulted from last winter’s major snowstorms, when about 300,000 people lost power.

“That will require a lot of hard work, a lot of cooperation, a lot of coordination,” he said.

During the 10:15 a.m. briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center in Reistertown, O’Malley said all of Maryland’s interstates are open, as are Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport and the Port of Baltimore.


Jerry Fick , a security guard at the Holiday Inn & Suites, shovels sand that was washed ashore by Hurricane Irene on in Ocean City, Md. (Ricky Carioti - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Ocean City fared far better than expected during the storm, O’Malley said.

Southern Maryland appears to be the hardest hit area of the state, the governor said. It likely accounts for the largest percentage of power outages, he said.

O’Malley said school closures this week “no doubt will be an emerging story” because of power outages and road closures.

O’Malley said one reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant closed during the hurricane as a preventive measure. He called that “routine.”

Reports that a second reactor closed were false, O’Malley said.


10:40 a.m. President Obama adds District to emergency declaration.

The District has been added to a list of jurisdictions that will receive federal funds to curb the costs of Hurricane Irene on the city, according to a news release from the White House Office of the Press Secretary.

President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the nation’s capital Sunday.

Paying for recovery from Hurricane Irene is going to require some budgetary magic by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reports Post reporter Ed O’Keefe.

The agency is down to $900 million in funds and will have to reroute some money away from long-term recovery in Joplin, Mo., and other tornado-struck portions of the South in order to aid the East Coast.


10:25 a.m. Second worst outage in Dominion history.

Virginia emergency officials say Dominion has confirmed this is second biggest outage in their history, second only to Isabel. More than 900,000 customers — 100,000 of them in Northern Virginia — remain without power as the utility repairs its infrastructure.

Those outages have also darkened about 80 stoplights in Northern Virginia, mostly in Fairfax County according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. But there are no major road closures in the region, the agency says.


9:45 a.m. Major Virginia, Maryland bridges reopen.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which connects the Baltimore and Washington areas to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reopened this morning after shutting down at 7:35 p.m. last night because of high winds — including gusts of up to 80 mph.

Meanwhile in Virginia, the Hampton Road Bridge Tunnel reopened. The Virginia Department of Transportation had closed the section of Interstate 64, which connects Norfolk and Hampton, at 11 a.m. Saturday citing heavy winds and tides.


9:35 a.m. Drinking water in Montgomery, Pr. George’s is fine, WSSC says.

While several wastewater plants lost power early this morning, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission reports that the filtration plants for much of the area’s drinking water never went offline.

The agency’s Piscataway, Broad Creek and Western Branch wastewater facilities each lost power last night, sending an undetermined amount of diluted sewage into area waterways. All three were back online by early this morning.


9:05 a.m. Tornado roars through Nassau, Del.

Officials in Sussex County, Del., said a tornado touched down at 6:30 p.m. Saturday near Nassau. At 6:53 p.m., dispatchers at the Lewes Fire Company received a call about home damage.


Tornado damage in Nassau, Del. (T. Rees Shapiro - The Washington Post)
Jim Marvel was eating spaghetti in his Nassau home when he heard a roar. The house next to Marvel’s was nearly leveled. The roof was torn off and a garage wall was blown away.

The roof on another house buckled in Marvel’s cul-de-sac. A large wood beam impaled the shingled roof of a third house like a spear.

Marvel, 75, an orthopedic surgeon, said the owner of the badly damaged house next to his was in Wilmington when the tornado tore through. Marvel said Lewes Fire Company officials told him the damaged house may be declared condemned.

Cathy Rossi, a spokeswoman for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) wrote in an e-mail that up to 30 homes near Nassau were damaged in the tornado. No one was reported injured.


8:27 a.m. Lights out in Prince George’s

No injuries are reported in Prince George’s County. But officials are dealing with substantial power outages, including one affecting the county’s Hyattsville command center, as well as downed limbs and debris in roadways, said spokesman Scott Peterson.

The command center in Hyattsville is operating on generator power, but power has been restored to the county’s 911 call center. “No calls have been missed,” Peterson said. Peterson said that more than a dozen fire stations and two county police stations were operating on generator power because of power outages.

Approximately 122,000 homes and business are without power in Prince George’s County, including 97,704 Pepco customers and 23,213 BGE customers. SMECO is also reporting outages in southern Prince George’s County.

Occupants of the two county shelters have gone home and the shelters are being shut down.

Road Closures in Prince George’s

Upper Marlboro, MD: Brooke Lane & Ritchie Marlboro Rd. (downed wire)

Upper Marlboro, MD: 15315 Rolling Meadows Rd.

Forestville, MD: Forestville Rd. - Suitland Parkway & Allentown Rd. (flooding)

Greenbelt, MD: Sunnyside Ave (flooding)

Bowie, MD: Governor Bridge Rd. (flooding)

Laurel, MD: Contee Rd at Mayfair (flooding)

College Park, MD: Metzerott Rd.west of U.S. Route 1 (flooding)

Clinton, MD: Wills Lane at Allentown Road (flooding)

Brandywine, MD: McKendree Rd near Accokeek Rd. (flooding)

Piscataway, MD: Livingston Road at Taylor/Chalfont Avenue (downed tree)

Oxon Hill, MD: 3500 Steed Road (downed tree)

Prince George’s County has set up a hurricane hotline to handle all non-emergency hurricane questions or concerns. That number is 301-352-1920.

Resident’s should call the county’s DPW@T hotline at 301-350-0550 to report downed trees, power lines, flooding and road closings.


8:05 a.m. Surfers at Virginia Beach

Daybreak found about half a dozen surfers silhouetted in the sun and riding breakers near Virginia Beach’s wooden pier, which lost a section and at least one piling during the storm. Its wooden planks and other debris littered the beach.

Other people strolled the beach and the boardwalk on what was shaping up to be a beautiful, if blustery and somewhat cloudy, morning.

One man worked northward at the edge of the surf, wanding a metal detector over the sand while two Virginia Beach volunteer ambulances cruised slowly along the boardwalk as their squads helped check for damage.


7:46 a.m. Crusaders for Christ having church in hotel

Hurricane Irene forced the cancelation of church services across the region. But at the Washington Hilton, several thousand chairs are set up for a massive Sunday morning service for people in town for the Crusade for Christ.

About 2,000 people were scheduled to come to D.C. for five days of door knocking and revivals. According to Ed Maxwell, minister of the Suitland Road Church of Christ and a local organizer of the event, busloads of people continued to arrive Saturday, despite the hurricane threat. Many people are yet to come because their flights were delayed or cancelled, Maxwell said.

When the storm passed through the area, about 600 people were singing “I am a hard-fighting soldier on the battle field” during the crusade’s opening banquet. John Dancey, chief of staff for the bi-annual national movement, smiled and told the gathering, “I was a meteorologist in the Air Force and from the beginning I wasn’t worried.”

On Saturday afternoon, crusade volunteers distributed 25,000 pounds of food to the needy at the 13th Street Church of Christ in Northwest to people who came out and accepted donations in the rain.

Brother Graylon Freeman, minister of the 13th Street congregation, said the food giveaway was important. “We wanted people to know that the church is concerned about people’s needs,” Freeman said.


7:04 a.m. Calm returns to Virginia Beach

Winds fell off early Sunday morning in Hampton Roads as sheets of rain became drizzle before disappearing altogether and calm returned with Irene’s departure.

The ocean withdrew well away from the boardwalk, most of the downtown area appeared to have power and streets that had been filled with standing water were mostly dry. Hurricane-force winds that blew onshore at the peak of the storm became only a stiff breeze blowing out to sea. The National Weather Service reported that Hurricane Irene’s center had moved to about 70 miles north-northeast of Ocean City and that hurricane warnings for some locations had been downgraded to tropical storm warnings.

According to officials and local media, some roads remained closed because of flooding, downed trees or fallen power lines, and more than 62,000 homes in the city were without power. It was not yet clear how extensive or severe the predicted tidal flooding might be in low-lying areas around the Elizabeth, James and Nansemond rivers. Norfolk recorded a maximum storm surge of 7.63 feet, just shy of the 7.89 feet surge recorded during Hurricane Isabel, The Virginian-Pilot reported early Sunday. The National Weather Service also warned of tropical storm gusts.

Only one road in Virginia Beach remained closed by police, and that was the winding two-lane path into the Sandbridge Beach section of Virginia Beach. Police closed Sandbridge Road about 7 p.m. Saturday because of dangerous conditions on the low-lying, peninsula-like strip of land. Four homes there were damaged by a microburst of winds early Saturday, and some of the streets had begun to fill with large puddles and sand drifts.

Meanwhile, Hampton Roads Transit suspended all bus, ferry and light rail service until Monday. The Virginia Department of Transportation estimated that the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, which carries Interstate 64 into Norfolk, and the Midtown Tunnel, which crosses the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk, would remain closed until 9 p.m. Sunday. Several Hampton Roads communities imposed overnight curfews, including Newport News, Williamsburg, Portsmouth and Suffolk.


5:58 a.m. Several wastewater plants lose power

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission:

The Western Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Upper Marlboro lost power about 3:45 a.m. today as a result of Hurricane Irene. Generators are providing some power to the plant but it is not fully operational. An undetermined amount of diluted sewage is overflowing at the facility.

The Broad Creek Wastewater Pumping Station in Fort Washington continues to fully operate on generators after losing power about 10:00 p.m. Saturday. The pumping station continues to overflow as a result of the excessive rain. It is unclear at this point how much diluted sewage is overflowing.

Power was restored to the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plant in Accokeek about 2:00 a.m. The facility lost power about 10:00 p.m. Saturday. An undetermined amount of diluted sewage overflowed while the plant was without power.

WSSC has notified the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Prince George’s County Health Department. WSSC crews will post signs in the area once it is safe to be outside.


5:48 a.m. Ocean City assesses damage

As the sun came up, Ocean City officials said there were no storm-related injuries. The city was restarting its waste treatment plant, which had been taken off-line Saturday evening as a precaution. Police were still keeping non-emergency traffic from crossing onto the island as they began a damage assessment.

By early morning, the wind had weakened considerably, the surf had retreated from its high point at the dune line and most of the Ocean City appeared to still have power. With the bulk of Hurricane Irene now passed, the island appears to have weathered it without significant damage.

It was apparent before dawn that most of the island still had power, but dozens of blocks on the coastal side of Ocean Highway were dark. By 5:30 a.m. the first utilty trucks were seen, and police patrols resumed. Officers stopped the few cars on the streets to warn of potential dangers from debris and standing water in the pre-dawn dark. But one officer, who declined to be identified because he wasn’t speaking officially, said it seemed damage to the beach town was limited, although the assessment teams were just being deployed.


5:03 a.m. Power outages in Va., D.C., Md.

Pepco: About 180,000 outages

• Prince George’s County: 89,000

• Montgomery County: 63,000

• D.C.: 27,000

Dominion Power: More than 1 million in Va. and N.C.

• Northern Virginia: 124,000 (mostly in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria, plus Fredericksburg and Stafford County along I-95 corridor)

• Richmond: 374,000

• Southeastern Virginia: 360,000

Baltimore Gas and Electric: Nearly 388,000

• Anne Arundel: 103,000

• Prince George’s County: 22,000

• Calvert: 5,700

• Howard: 30,000

• Montgomery: 9,000


3:42 a.m. Calvert Cliffs nuclear facility goes off-line

Early this morning Constellation Energy released a statement that said the Calvert Cliffs nuclear facility “automatically went off-line” as heavy wind gusts dislodged a large piece of aluminum siding from a building, and the siding “came in contact with our main transformer.” No injuries were reported, and the company said all employees were safe.

The facility remained safe and stable, company officials said, but an “unusual event” was declared, which officials said is the lowest of four emergency classifications by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Officials said the facility’s Unit 2 is operating at 100 percent power as they continue to monitor the weather and forecasts.

“The facility is safe; there is no impact to employees or our neighbors. There is no threat,” officials said in the statement.


2:32 a.m. Power outages cause sewage overflow

A power outage at WSCC Wastewater pumping station in Fort Washington allowed “an undetermined amount of diluted sewage” to overflow while pumps were down, WSCC officials announced in a statement issued early Sunday. The statement also said that the Piscataway plant lost power at about 10 p.m. Saturday causing a similar problem.

The utility said they notified officials of both Maryland Department of Environment and Prince George’s County Health department. Officials made no notifications about the safety of water serviced by those stations.


2 a.m. Power outages in Va., D.C. and Md.

Pepco: Up to 180,000 outages

• Prince George’s County: 115,000

• Montgomery County: 37,500

• D.C.: 21,000

Dominion Power: 980,000 in Va. and N.C.

• Northern Virginia: 86,000

• Richmond: 380,000

• Southeastern Virginia: 361,490

Baltimore Gas and Electric: Nearly 300,000

• Anne Arundel: 94,000

• Prince George’s County: 21,000

• Calvert: 5,700

• Howard: 14,000

• Montgomery: 515


1:20 a.m. Woman killed in Queen Anne’s County

A death was reported in the Queenstown area of Queen Anne’s County in Maryland.

Kevin Aftung, the county’s chief of emergency services, said a tree fell on a house and caused the chimney to collapse, resulting in fatal injuries to a woman inside.

Click here for updates from Saturday as Irene passed through the region.

By The Washington Post  |  09:28 AM ET, 08/28/2011

 
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