O’Malley said he had seen “steady progress” in restoring electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes. He defended local utility companies for being “honest and straight up with us” about how long power restoration would take.
But some unhappy residents told a different story.
“We called five times, and they keep saying ‘Oh yeah, you’re a big priority,’ ” said Mary Lou Kenary, of Chevy Chase. Her daughter and severely disabled grandchild are visiting from North Carolina, and she and her husband have been waiting since Saturday for Pepco to remove a huge tree and telephone pole, covered in wires, from their driveway.
“We called again this morning, and they said they had no record of us,” Kenary said. “We’re just so frustrated at how this has been mishandled.”
In Virginia, Fairfax County officials reported that 911 service has been fully restored, after widespread problems caused by the failure of Verizon’s primary and backup power systems during Friday’s violent storms.
Verizon did not officially notify Fairfax County that its 911 system was knocked out by the storms for roughly three hours, according to Steve Souder, director of the county’s emergency call center. He said county officials were aware that the emergency line was not working after it went out at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, but that the scope of the problem did not become clear until Verizon phoned county officials at around 9:30 or 9:45 a.m.
The storms and an accompanying heat wave have claimed at least 26 lives in Virginia, Maryland and the District, officials reported. Authorities have attributed at least 14 of the deaths — 10 in Virginia, three in Maryland and one in the District — directly to the storms. In addition, Virginia has reported eight heat-related fatalities, and Maryland has reported four. It is not clear how many of those heat-related deaths could also be attributed to the storms — resulting, for example, from power outages brought on by the violent weather.
The storms also left more than 1 million people in the dark, and nearly 190,000 remained without power as of 3:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
Several public Independence Day celebrations have been canceled in the Washington suburbs, as crews struggled with cleanup and repairs and the National Weather Service predicted more hot and unsettled conditions this week.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) called on the District-based Pepco utility to launch an effort to bury power lines underground, a mammoth and costly undertaking. He is seeking federal funding to help the city recover from storm damage.