D.C. Derecho Storm Damage: Power Restoration Will Take Several Days (PHOTOS)

D.C. Derecho Storm

WASHINGTON -- Residents in the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia whose power was knocked out by Friday night's fierce "derecho" storm may have to endure the current heat wave without electricity for several days.

More than a million homes and business across the D.C. region were impacted by the power outages. For some utilities, the severity of the power outages surpassed those that resulted from Hurricane Irene last year.

One D.C.-area electric utility, Pepco, reported that full power restoration could take several days.

That means that all those without electricity will have to endure the ongoing heat wave or find other places with power to stay cool.

The entire D.C. region is under a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning. High temperatures above 100 degrees were recorded across the region on Friday and the heat wave was forecasted to continue into next week.

The District of Columbia declared a state of emergency on Saturday afternoon. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)did the same for his state as did Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in Maryland.

The storms killed at least 5 people in the D.C. area, according to The Washington Post. At least 12 people were killed across the Mid-Atlantic states, according to The Associated Press.

Some cellphone and Internet service has been disrupted in the D.C. area. 911 service in some Virginia jurisdictions in Virginia was limited or not functioning, too.

Water restrictions are in place for Washington Suburban and Sanitary Commission customers in Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's County. Although the water supply is safe to drink, power outages have prevented the utility from pumping additional water into different parts of the distribution system.

Metro reported that some rail stations were running on backup power, but rail service was running on a normal weekend schedule, though track work was in effect on certain lines. There were bus delays due to detours from fallen trees.

Amtrak service on the Northeast Corridor was suspended between Washington and Philadelphia on Saturday due to tree damage and power supply issues. Amtrak expected service to be back up an running by noon, but that did not happen. By 4 p.m., limited service had been re-established.

Despite Friday's thunderstorm system, wildfires continue to burn in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, according to InciWeb.

The office of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray released the following information about storm damage and recovery:

After suffering through a record breaking day with heat indexes reaching up to 108 degrees, yesterday evening, a major thunderstorm hit our region dropping damaging hail, heavy rain, and bringing down thousands of trees and causing major power outages throughout the District and surrounding areas. “While last night’s storms have wreaked havoc across the metro region, the District Government has responded quickly and our emergency services team is fully activated,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray who is monitoring the situation during an economic development trip to China. “Our teams are out getting debris and downed trees off the streets and sidewalks. Given the oppressive heat, our cooling centers are open for people who have power outages and do not have other options. I’d like to applaud our first responders for their efforts, they’ve been out there all night and will be out all day today in the heat, thank you for your service.” "District government is working with PEPCO and other utility partners to respond to the storms that came through the area last night," said Allen Y. Lew, City Administrator. "Every agency of government is mobilized to assist with clean-up and to ensure that our residents have access to cooling centers, water and any other emergency services that may be necessary. This is especially true for our seniors and young children. The joint emergency command will be in effect throughout the weekend to deal with any damage from storms that are expected later today or tomorrow." Emergency response teams from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and their Urban Forestry Division; Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA); Department of Health (DOH); Department of Public Works (DPW), Metropolitan Police Department (MPD); Fire & Emergency, Medical Services (FEMS) and others all monitored the storm and immediately responded to service calls last night to begin the process of removing debris from roadways, manning intersections that may have lost signals and responding to call concerning downed trees on house or cars. The following is a list of the District’s response efforts at this time: Power Outages: There are currently approximately 63,000 customers without power in D.C. These outages are approximately evenly divided between all the wards.
  • Pepco has made Hadley hospital 4601 MLK Ave SE a priority. The facility is on generator power. Only emergency lights are on. The Facility is not fully functioning.
  • Also on generator power: Methodist Home 4901 Conn Ave NW and Forest side Home. 2701 Military Rd NW

Trees Blocking Streets: Urban Forestry is not reporting any major roadways blocked.

Traffic Signals: DOT reports 7 intersections are currently flashing and an additional 19 are completely out.

Trees Down By Ward:
Ward 1: 44
Ward 1: 34
Ward 3: 104
Ward 4: 62
Ward 5: 64
Ward 6: 113
Ward 7: 34
Ward 8: 12

Significant Incidents w/updates: Penn Branch Service Center and Brentwood Road Test Closed Today
Trees on Houses: There are reports of at least 11 trees which damaged houses or trapped residents in houses. HSEMA Operations will update with addresses in the next sit report. This number has not increased since the time of the last report.

Schools: No reports of trees fallen on schools or significant damage to schools

Traffic: Traffic is generally flowing normally on major arteries.

Public Libraries: All facilities open except: Palisades Library; Takoma Park Library; Deanwood Library (which is part of the Deanwood Rec Center); Northwest One Library (which is part of the Walker Jones Education Campus and also has a Rec Center)

MPD: The Metropolitan Police Department experienced an increase in calls for service during and immediately following last nights storm. Although the demand for police services increased, the calls for service were answered in a timely manner throughout the night. Most of our calls for service were for trees down and wires down throughout the city during the storm.

The Emergency Services Unit (ESU) for MPD was out this morning helping to clear some of the intersections throughout the District. We will continue to work closely with our public safety partners throughout the coming days.

Weather Forecast:
The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Washington DC and the surrounding region from 11:00 am until 9:00 pm. The temperature is expected to be around 100 degrees this afternoon with Heat Index Values around 110 degrees. There is another chance of severe thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and evening and a similar forecast for Sunday.

“I urge all district residents to look out after their neighbors,” noted Chris Gledart, Director of HSEMA. “If you know of anyone in your neighborhood that might need assistance, please look in on them, this especially important if you have elderly or disabled neighbors. If you have concerns about anyone in the District that might be unable to reach out for help, please call 311 for assistance.”
Beat-the-Heat Tips
It is recommended that those with lung disease, asthma, small children and the elderly stay inside if at all possible to avoid unhealthy outdoor air.

Residents should know the difference between an advisory and a warning. An excessive-heat advisory issued by the National Weather Service means that extreme heat is likely. An excessive-heat warning means that extreme heat is likely and can pose a threat to life if proper precautions are not taken.

In the event of extreme heat, you should take the following precautions:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Turn on the air conditioner or fan.
  • DO NOT leave children or pets in vehicles.
  • Pay special attention to young children, the elderly and the mentally ill.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside (SPF 15-30 is best).
  • Limit exposure to the sun (the sun is most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.).
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • If you do not have access to a cool-temperature location, visit one of the District’s cooled indoor facilities referred to above.

Residents should also be reminded that these hot and humid conditions can cause many medical problems, such as heat stroke and exhaustion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider heat stroke to be the most serious heat-related illness. According to CDC, “heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.”

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Throbbing headache
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion/dizziness
  • Slurred speech

Groups at greatest risk for heat-related illness:

  • Infants
  • Children up to four years of age
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications.

Groups at greatest risk should be monitored carefully, and their environments should be regulated. The CDC recommends that those at greatest risk be closely monitored and visited at least twice a day to view for possible signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children should also be closely monitored.

This is a developing story.