Thousands of people in rural stretches of the Washington suburbs remained without electricity for a second day, as repair crews struggled to reach power lines damaged by Wednesday's ice storm.
In Frederick County, more than 33,600 Allegheny Power Co. customers were still without electricity late last night, spokesman Allen Staggers said.
More than 300 extra crew workers were brought into the area yesterday and electricity was restored to 20,000 homes, but some customers likely will have to wait until Saturday afternoon to get power restored, Staggers said. Several thousand other people in Carroll and northern Montgomery counties also were without electricity last night, officials said.
Clarksburg Elementary School in Montgomery will remain closed today because of a power outage, but electricity was restored to Monocacy and Cedar Grove elementary schools that were closed yesterday, said county schools spokesman Brian Porter.
In Loudoun County, 1,400 customers remained without power late last night. Power is expected to return to those areas by noon today, said Dominion Virginia Power spokesman David Botkins.
The good news for residents without heat was that temperatures rose to nearly 50 degrees yesterday from Wednesday's freezing levels, said Andy Woodcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Sterling.
Customers just northwest of the Washington region in the Shenandoah Valley also lost power. By late yesterday, about 12,600 customers in Winchester were still without electricity, Fletcher said, adding that he hopes their service will be restored by this afternoon.
Power companies faced several obstacles restoring electricity quickly, Anderson said, especially in far-flung areas. Crews had to contend with slippery roads, icy power poles that were difficult to climb, and a shortage of tree trimmers to accompany the electricians on their rounds, she said.
"These are real remote areas. We're spending all this time to get to one location and there's one customer affected," Anderson said. "For the same amount of work near subdivisions, we could get 1,000 customers."
She added that crews are also working gingerly in the wet conditions because water conducts electricity.
"Customers see our folks standing around and get defensive. Well, our guys need to discuss safety. We're not going to apologize for that," she said.
But many customers were miffed -- especially Robert Powell, who manages a 150-acre thoroughbred breeding farm near Middleburg called Rutledge Farm, which bred and raised Colonial Affair, the 1993 Belmont Stakes winner.
"We've got million-dollar blood mares here, and I'm 71, hauling buckets of water all day because the pumps in our wells won't work," he said. "The power company is sending all the crews to the big subdivisions, but they forget that people have lives out here in the rural parts."
Staff writer Petula Dvorak contributed to this report.