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Washington lurches to its feet after hard-hitting storm

Many people found themselves without power after a January storm and headed to Starbucks to recharge both themselves and their electronics.

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Montgomery officials declared a road emergency about midnight. That allowed hundreds of abandoned vehicles, - which both fed the epic gridlock Wednesday night and hampered emergency workers and repair crews - to be towed.

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Prince George's opened a warming shelter for residents without power at the Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.

The icy roads that led to paralysis on the highways and darkened neighborhoods caused many local governments to close Thursday, including the District's. Even the ice rinks in Montgomery County didn't open, because the roads for skaters to drive there were so treacherous.

BG&E reported 46,860 without power across Maryland as of 5 p.m. The utility said it hopes to have power restored to most of its customers by Saturday.

The federal government opened, however, granting workers a two-hour delay. Employees also were advised that they could take unscheduled leave or telework from home, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Different jurisdictions offered different advice. Major arteries in the District are open with rush-hour restrictions on parking in place, but some suburban authorities advised residents to stay home.

"The city is pretty much open for business," John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, said just before sunrise Thursday. "The downtown streets have been plowed. It's not curb to curb yet, but they are clear."

Lisle said plows were at work on every route in residential neighborhoods.

"Most residential streets have a slushy coat and we're treating that with salt because there's not enough to plow," he said.

Lisle urged residents to shovel their sidewalks.

"In terms of driving, you can get where you need to go," he said. "The problem is going to be on the sidewalks. The last thing we want is people getting hit because they have to walk in the street."

The Virginia Department of Transportation encouraged people to stay home until the roads can be cleared of snow, abandoned cars, trees and power lines.

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