The lights keep going out in Maryland.
More than 300,000 have lost power in Maryland and more than 7.4 million on the East Coast are in the dark because of Hurricane Sandy. Early estimates suggest the superstorm has caused $20 billion in economic damages – comparable to the Katrina storm.
At a 9:30 p.m. Monday news conference Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said the worst would come through the night and he was right.
“I feel like we’re only just now beginning the rough part of this storm,” O’Malley said from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Reisterstown. “The next 12 hours will most likely be the most intense.”
This comes on the heels of an earlier press conference when O’Malley was quite blunt in his effort to keep people from going out on the roads.
“There will be people who die and are killed in this storm,” he told reporters, noting debris will fall on resident’s houses and the roads are extremely dangerous.
“Don’t go outside,” he said. “Don’t go on the road.”
UPDATE: The storm smashed New Jersey Monday evening with 80 mph winds, leaving dozens dead in seven states, cut power to millions of customers from the Carolinas to Ohio, and raised fears about nuclear power plants – as well as stopping early voting. (The United States’ death toll continues to climb as we write this. President Obama declared New York a major disaster.) This after it claimed more than 60 lives in the Caribbean. So far at least two died in Maryland, including a Montgomery County woman who was killed in a head-on collisionMonday morning, and a Pasadena man died when a tree fell on his house Monday evening.
Baltimore Gas and Electric reported 188,000 customers without power Tuesday morning.
Pepco similarly has reported more than 15,500 customers without power and Delmarva Power has about 50,000 customers without power while Choptank Electric Cooperative reported 11,000 customers without power on Monday evening. In Western Maryland, Potomac Edison has 28,000 customers without power while .Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative,said 9,000 customers have no power on Monday evening. The numbers are growing.
BGE has 1,700 extra workers but the conditions are not safe for most to do their work.
“We can’t safely do overhead work with bucket trucks when the wind exceeds 25 miles per hour,” according to a statement from Jeannette M. Mills, BGE’s vice president for customer operations and chief customer officer,.
Baltimore Gas and Electric customers who have lost power are urged to call 877-778-2222 to report the outage.
While early voting has been postponed, it didn’t stop state politicians to start the blame game.
Sens. Jim Rosapepe and Brian Frosh said that Hurricane Sandy urged the utilities to “acknowledge climate change and modernize the electric infrastructure.”
“It’s past time for BGE and PEPCO to move into the 21st Century — by making scientifically-based business decisions and investing in burying power lines and other modernizations of our electric power infrastructure to withstand extreme weather caused by climate change,” Rosapepe said in the statement.
Meanwhile it could days before power is restored in the state. Flooding continues to be a major problem with six inches of water covering many of the streets in Baltimore. Four vacant rowhouses in the 500 block of North Carey Street collapsed because of the storm late Monday afternoon. Authorities said no one was injured.
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