Area residents experienced slightly less sweltering temperatures and relatively quiet roads on Monday, as utility companies continued to battle massive power outages from Friday’s severe storms, and authorities raised the death toll from the storms and accompanying heat wave.
Officials in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia reported Monday that at least 17 people died as a result of the storms. In addition, Virginia reported six heat-related deaths since June 20, but it was not clear how many of those — if any — resulted from losing electricity because of the violent weather.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said in a statement Monday that of the 10 storm-related fatalities in his state, three occurred in Fairfax County. McDonnell said power outages in Virginia were at “historic levels ... typically seen only after hurricanes.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) told a news conference Monday afternoon that six people died as a result of the storms and that three of the fatalities were “heat-related.” One storm-related death has been reported in the District.
O’Malley described the storms as “a hurricane-type punch without the hurricane warning” and acknowledged that not as many crews were out repairing utilities as people expected. “We suffered a hit that was the equivalent of a hurricane impact ... and yet we did not have the four days of warning that would have allowed us” to bring in crews from other states,” he said.
Maryland health officials reported the first three deaths related to the heat wave — one in Montgomery County, one in Wicomico County and one in Baltimore city. Officials declined to provide specifics except to say that the person who died in Montgomery County was a man between 18 and 65 and that the other two victims were men 65 or older. Health officials cautioned residents about the potential dangers from heat stroke and heat exhaustion that can develop from the hot, humid conditions typically associated with Maryland summers. In 2011, there were 34 confirmed heat-related deaths in Maryland, up from 32 in 2010.
In Montgomery County, officials canceled two July 4 fireworks events in Germantown and Wheaton in the aftermath of the storms. County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said at a news conference Monday that police and fire personnel who would have been needed at those events would be better employed helping with recovery efforts.
“We need to take as many resources [as] we can” and direct them toward the recovery, he told reporters at the Springvale Terrace senior living facility in Silver Spring.
Gaithersburg also canceled its annual July 4 fireworks show because the Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco) has based its primary power-recovery operations on the fairgrounds, the city said in a statement Monday.
About 419,400 businesses and households in the District, Northern Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland — 22.3 percent of customers — remained without electricity as of 2:30 p.m. Monday, according to data on the utilities’ Web sites.