Six hundred hot, thirsty Bowie families have been without electricity for more than two days since Tropical Storm David knocked out their power, and electric company officials said the outrage may continue until Sunday.
"Here's my refrigerator," said Joan Puglia, pointing to a blue ice chest that she had dragged out from post-Labor Day hibernation. "This is what I'm feeding the family from."
Puglia said she unloaded her regular refrigerator-- into the garbage-- when food began to spoil yesterday. She salvaged some frozen food by storing it in a neighbor's freezer.
I fed my kids Cheerios and milk for breakfast," before the milk went bad yesterday, she said, "McDonald's for lunch and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. I think they're getting a little sick of this."
Her neighbor, Peggy Tyler, gave up trying to cope.
"I'm leaving for Baltimore," she said. "I'm leaving for power with the children and a full load of food. I have to do a lot of cooking so I can freeze some of this food."
She plans to stay with relatives.
Meanwhile, Gov. Harry Hughes said he would ask President Carter for a declaration of several Maryland counties as disaster areas as a result of storm damage. If Carter agrees, residents would become eligible for low-interest business and residential loans and a variety of federal grants to help pay for repairs, medical bills and other storm-related expenses.
But Gov. John Dalton of Virginia said aid to residents of his state probably would be limited to loans from the Small Business Administration.
"It appears at this point that it is not a situation that will require a presidential declaration," Dalton said.
Hughes said he was putting Baltimore City, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Frederick and St. Mary's counties on the disaster list.
Further paperwork is required to document the extent of damages before the areas can get disaster status from the federal government. Hughes said he hoped that process would be completed by Tuesday.
Officials of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which supplies power to the Bowie area, said its crews haven't reached Bowie yet because of serious damage in other areas, particularly the coastal areas of Anne Arundel County.
Familities throughout Bowie lost electricity Wednesday night when individual transformers and a high tension power line between the Crofton and Bowie substations were damaged by the storm.
"Sunday is the ultimate date the absolute maximum for that service area to be restored," said Norma Cullen, a spokeswoman for the company's Laurel office.
Baltimore Gas and Electric supplies power to Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties and part of Prince George's and Montgomery. At the height of the storm, about 168,000 persons in those areas lost power, officials said and as of yesterday afternoon, about 5,000 people were still without electricity.
Lloyd Banner said he has lost about $150 worth of food, "and that's about average around here."
He and other Bowie residesnt criticized the company for not providing dry ice-- as residents say they were promised-- to help salvage some food. "Baltimore Gas and Electric had people standing in line at Belair Junior High School for four hours waiting for gas, and they never showed up," Banner said.
Bowie's nine public schools were closed yesterday because of the power failure. School officials said yesterday they expect the schools to open Monday.
"We seem to be the poor sister," Banner said. "They come out and help us last, but when it comes to a rate hike, we get to pay as much as anyone else."
In addition to the 600 residents affected, local officials said that many businesses were being hurt, including the Safeway Store on Annapolis Road, where about $20,000 in frozen and refrigerated foods were lost.
Although Bowie was hardest hit by the Baltimore Gas and Electric power failure, company officials said that about 50 families in the Lanham area of Prince George's and 12 in Montgomery County also were affected.
South of Prince George's in Charles and St. Mary's counties, officials from the Southern Maryland Electrical Cooperative said they were trying to repair widespread power outages affecting nearly 3,000 people.
Residents in those two counties were particularly hard hit by the power failures because many have their own septic and well-water systems that rely on electric pumps.
A repair worker for the cooperative was killed yesterday and his helper criticably injured while trying to repair a 7,200-volt line downed in the storm.
State police said William A. Tettimer Jr., 34, of St. Leonard was pronounced dead on arrival at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick.
United Press International quoted a company spokesman as saying the men inadvertently touched a live wire while trying to splice a cable.