Power restored in a day to most homes


A storm on Sept.8, 2012 led to downed trees, such as this one in Bethesda, Md. A car is under the tree, but no one was in the car at the time. (Katherine Shaver/The Washington Post)

Nearly all of the Washington area homes that lost power after the fast-moving storms of Saturday evening were back online by late Sunday in what came as a relatively speedy recovery compared with the summer’s prolonged outages.

More than 188,000 households lost power Saturday after a fierce storm produced high winds and pounding rain from Fairfax to Annapolis. The violent weather moved through quickly but left a trail of fallen trees and darkened living rooms.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, Dominion Virginia Power had restored electricity to 98 percent of Northern Virginia households affected by the storm, company officials said. They expected full restoration before midnight Sunday.

The Virginia suburbs were hardest hit in the region, with 115,000 Dominion customers losing power. Repairs were still underway Sunday afternoon in Arlington County and Falls Church.

Pepco said it had restored power to 98 percent of its affected homes in the District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties by late Sunday afternoon.

“We expect to have virtually all of them on by later this evening,” Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel said Sunday.

The relatively short turnaround was a marked change from the slower recovery that followed the June 29 “derecho” storms in the Washington region, which left more than a million residents without power, some for a week or more, amid a heat wave.

“The June 29 storm is still fresh on our minds, but this was nothing like that storm,” said Le-Ha Anderson, a Dominion spokeswoman.

Saturday’s storm was considered “moderate,” she said, while the June storm was deemed “catastrophic.” Damage was substantially less. In addition, there had been no warning of the ferocity of the June storm, she said.

This time, “we had preparation time . . . and we could do some advanced planning,” Anderson said, noting that crews were on standby and that shifts were added.

Another important difference, said Oppel, of Pepco, was the sheer number of homes affected. In June, nearly half a million Pepco customers lost power, she said, compared with 65,000 during this storm.

“It’s a dramatically smaller number,” she said.

Among Pepco customers, the impact was greatest around Andrews Air Force Base; in southern Prince George’s; in the Northwest and Northeast areas of the District; and in the ­Bethesda-Chevy Chase area.

Power outages struck hardest among Dominion customers in western and northern Fairfax County, the city of Falls Church and Arlington, Anderson said.

Early reports cited Alexandria as hard-hit, but Anderson said it accounted for 4,000 of Dominion’s outages.

Baltimore Gas and Electric said it completed its restoration at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. More than 20,000 customers, many in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, were affected, spokesman Rob Gould said.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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