Worst Week in Washington
A weekly award honoring inhabitants of Planet Beltway

Who had the worst week in Washington? Pepco and Dominion Power.

Being hot is not fun.

This indisputable fact of human existence was brought home to the Washington area after a 20-minute long derecho — a technical term for a thunderstorm plus wind — passed through on June 29 and knocked out power to more than 1 million homes and businesses, plunging the region into a days-long sweat fest.

Worst Week in Washington

Chris Cillizza grants the award to the Democrat, Republican, West Wing dweller, Capitol Hill insider, K Street dealer, business guru, sports hero, think tank scribblers or other inhabitant of Planet Beltway who experienced the absolute worst week.

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At first, the reaction was muted. Twenty-four hours without power can be a quaint throwback to the olden days before the luxuries of wi-fi and air-conditioning.

As the power outages dragged on — and the temperatures continued to crest triple digits — the novelty turned to ash in the collective mouths of Washingtonians. Calls to Pepco, the energy provider for Washington and parts of Maryland, and Dominion Virginia Power, which, in theory, brings power to Virginia, grew more frantic as health concerns mounted and rage became the dominant emotion. Signs begging for service began to crop up on city streets.

How did Pepco and Dominion respond? Although their efforts to scramble trucks and crews from around the country to help solve a problem for which they clearly weren’t prepared were admirable, their customer service left something to be desired.

Wary of making promises they couldn’t keep, the utilities declined to estimate when power might be restored. Dominion made automated phone calls to customers intimating that electricity had returned when . . . wait for it . . . it had not.

No one expects the unexpected, but five days (or more) to return a major metropolitan area to power borders on the ludicrous.

Pepco and Dominion, for forcing Washington to weather the sweatiest five days in recent memory, you had the worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@wpost.com.

 
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