December 13, 2017
Saturday, June 30, 2012

Storms leave 3.5 million without power in US

Storm damaged trees litter the east lawn of the US Capitol, in Washington DC.
Storm damaged trees litter the east lawn of the US Capitol, in Washington DC.
Storm damaged trees litter the east lawn of the US Capitol, in Washington DC.

About 3.5 million customers were without power in the eastern United States amid a record heat wave after deadly thunderstorms knocked down trees and power lines from Indiana to New Jersey.

Statewide emergencies were declared in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia because of damage from overnight storms, which brought hurricane-force winds along a 500-mile-long stretch. At least eight people were killed.

Forecasters predicted more severe thunderstorms partnered with renewed heat on Saturday.

Restoring power in some areas could stretch into next week. Utilities in Ohio and Virginia described damage as catastrophic.

"It's going to be a while before some folks get power, and with the heat, that's our big concern," said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

More than 1 million Virginia customers were out of power in the worst outage not linked to a hurricane in the state's history, he said.

Six people were killed in Virginia in storm-related incidents, Spieldenner said.

Utilities or state emergency agencies reported the following outages and damages:

- Maryland: About 800,000 customers without power with outages reported in every county.

- West Virginia: About 672,000 customers without power.

- Ohio: Power out across two-thirds of state, 710,000 customers without electricity. Governor John Kasich said power could take a week to be restored fully.

- New Jersey: Atlantic County declared state of emergency, and about 100,000 customers in the area were without power. Two cousins ages 2 and 7 were killed by a falling tree in state park.

- District of Columbia: 67,000 power customers affected.

- Pennsylvania: 32,500 customers without power.

- Indiana: 135,000 customers with power lost.

Power companies called in crews from utilities in neighboring states to help clear damage and restore electricity.

The widespread power outages came as the National Weather Service forecast another day of record-breaking heat and severe thunderstorms across the Ohio Valley and into the northern mid-Atlantic states.

State and local officials urged people across the region to seek air-conditioned areas, drink lots of water and wear light-colored clothing. They also called for people to watch out for those most vulnerable to high heat - the elderly, small children and the mentally ill.

"Our biggest concern right now is temperatures going up to 100 degrees today," said Ed McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management.

Records for June were broken on Friday in Washington; Atlanta; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky. The temperature hit at least 104 F (40 C) in all four cities, according to the National Weather Service.

The high temperatures were blamed for the deaths of two brothers, ages 3 and 5, in Bradley County in eastern Tennessee. They had been playing outside in 105-degree heat.

The high heat prompted the AT&T National golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to close the competition to spectators and volunteers on Saturday.

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