Hundreds of Thousands Without Power Following Friday Storm
BGE says recovery could take days.
(Updated: 9:38 a.m.)—Bill Bickel was getting his family ready for the sun, wind and water at the beaches of North Carolina.
Instead, the wind and water came to him before the family could leave their Bellona Avenue home Saturday morning. A tree branch fell from their yard, ripping apart a power pole and yanking the power line from their home.
"I think there was a little bit of an explosion" shortly after midnight, Bickel said. "I was thankful it didn't hit the house, to be honest with you."
Bickel was out on his driveway surveying the damage with his 2-1/2 year old son Zachary, who was dressed and ready for a vacation.
"As you can see, with the kids in their beach shorts, they're ready to go," he said.
Bickel called 911 last night—couldn't get through—and called Baltimore Gas and Electric—no response yet. And he's not the only one waiting.
Road and electric crews are trying to recover from Friday night's powerful thunderstorms in the Baltimore area, an effort that could take days.
According to Baltimore Gas and Electric, over 500,000 customers lost power during the storm, and as of 8:15 a.m., more than 421,000 were still without power. Over 100,000 outages were reported in Baltimore County.
For comparison, 750,000 BGE customers lost power during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Officials are warning that restoration could take a while for many customers. The utility prioritizes "critical infrastructure" components like 911 centers and hospitals.
“Once these issues have been addressed and we’ve completed our initial damage assessment, field assignments will be prioritized in a way that restores service to the greatest number of customers at one time," said Jeannette Mills, BGE's chief customer officer, in a statement. "Consideration will also be given to customers who have been out of service the longest. That said, a large number of our customers should expect to be without power for several days.”
To report an outage to BGE, call 877-778-2222.
Kyrle Preis, assistant chief of the Baltimore County Fire Department, said there were no major injuries to report. The county's emergency operations center opened early Saturday morning, shortly after the storms passed.
Preis said there are reports across the county of damage caused by fallen trees and debris. Fifteen homes were struck by trees; three homes were declared unsafe.
"This is one of those things where we can look at Baltimore County and draw a circle" around affected areas, he said. "This is really, really widespread."
In southwest Baltimore County, Catonsville was hit harder than Arbutus, with lights out on Rolling Road at both Edmondson Avenue and Baltimore National Pike. University of Maryland, Baltimore County is also without power.
Power is on at a majority of businesses along Frederick Road, however.
Officers in Baltimore County Police Department's Wilkens precinct told Patch that there have been no major injuries reported as a result of Friday's storms.
For more updates on the storm in southwest Baltimore County, click here.
The priority for crews right now, Preis said, is downed electrical lines that may be sparking and trees blocking roadways.
"The call volume's actually going down but we still have some of our backroads and more rural areas that haven't been traversed yet," he said.
To report trees blocking county roadways, call 410-887-5210.
In addition to the power outages, the Baltimore area is set for another day of record heat. Preis advises residents to check on family and friends who may be at risk. Baltimore County does not operate cooling centers; instead, Preis advises that residents seek somewhere with air conditioning, such as a library, senior center or mall.
"Find a place to go," he said.
More severe weather to come
Forecasters say that more severe weather is on the way. Foot's Forecast says the next batch of storms not quite as intense as Friday night's system should hit central Maryland around 5 p.m. Saturday.
In the meantime, the Baltimore area is still under a heat advisory from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with highs expected to reach 100 degrees and a heat index as high as 110
Stay with Patch for more.
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Bryan P. Sears and Penny Riordan contributed to this report.