Storm knocks Washington powerless (Lead)

July 1st, 2012 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 1 (IANS) A savage storm has knocked Washington, the capital of world’s most powerful country, powerless with temperatures topping sizzling 40s, much like an Indian summer.

Over 1.3 million homes and businesses in Washington and surrounding cities in Maryland and Virginia states faced the prospect of days without power over 36 hours after the storm struck Friday night.

Emergency cruise are working round the clock to restore power to hospitals and other essential services. But in homes and apartments across the region with no telephones, TVs and internet working, people are using candles and flashlights to make their way to dark corridors and trudging down stairs to get daily supplies.

According to the Washington Post, many roads made impassable due to fallen trees and the power lines they took down were, however, reopened by Sunday. The crews worked through the night to clean up the tangled aftermath of the storm.

The Washington region’s three utilities said they were making progress in turning the lights on again. But they cautioned that broken branches and hanging limbs continued to topple onto power lines, causing blackouts for people who thought they have weathered the storm unscathed.

Temperatures Sunday were forecast to reach close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, continuing a heat streak that began Friday.

Facing the prospect of days without electricity, hundreds of thousands of area residents spent Saturday dragging fallen trees from yards and streets.

They were keeping themselves cool in swimming pools and theatres and searching in vain for open gas stations or outlets to charge their cellphones.

The storms caused at least five deaths in the region as two elderly women were crushed by trees that fell through their roofs, two drivers were killed in their cars by trees, and a man was electrocuted by a downed power line.

States of emergency were declared in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

According to the New York Times, about two million customers remained without electricity after a deadly string of thunderstorms whipped through the mid-Atlantic region and downed trees and power lines.

The New York Times said at least 12 people were killed, including a 90-year-old woman who died when a tree fell on her house as she slept.

The damage was most severe in the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia and Maryland, where some residents huddled in their basements as the storm ripped through the area.

“It came on very suddenly,” said Laurie Singer, a resident in Maryland’s Potomac area.

“It was a very short burst of heavy rain and then you heard this swooshing sound, and it was the wind,” she said. “I actually felt the house shaking.”

About 770,000 people remained without power in Virginia alone, the report said.

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