Storms leave thousands without power in Frederick County -- Gazette.Net







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John Dilley is one of about 14 people in his Walkersville neighborhood who still were without power three days after Friday night’s storms.

Dilley, who’s lived in Walkersville for 33 years, was at Giant Eagle, 1275 W. Seventh St., Frederick, on Monday to pick up water and ice. Potomac Edison customers who are without power can pick up two gallons of water and a bag of ice at that store until power has been restored.

As of Tuesday morning, 600 people in Frederick County still were without power, according to Scott Surgeoner, a spokesman with Potomac Edison. The majority of those customers were expected to have power restored Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

Dilley said he and his wife had to empty their refrigerator and freezer, giving most of the food away to friends and family. He said the current outage is the longest he’s been without power in Walkersville, with the issue compounded because the house is on well water and septic sewage, so there’s no water coming into the house.

“We have family close by, so we’ve been able to take showers,” Dilley said. “Today I rented a generator so we at least have some fans blowing.”

Jasmine Waiters, a Giant Eagle employee helping distribute water and ice, estimated she helped about a dozen people between Sunday and Monday, and about 20 came into the store since the program started.

“A lot of people are out of water and without power,” she said. “It really helps.”

Crews from the Frederick’s department of public works responded to calls for downed trees and debris from around 10 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Saturday, said Keith Brown, the assistant deputy director of operations for the department. He said the department had 50 reports of broken limbs or other debris, and still were receiving reports on Monday, but the bulk of the downed trees were cleared by Saturday afternoon.

The two biggest issues were downed power lines on Norva Avenue and Second Street, requiring both streets to be closed. Both roads were reopened late Sunday evening, Brown said.

“All of our streets are back open,” Brown said. “We’re still doing some limb clean up and in the parks picking up some trees that have blown over.”

Brown said he wasn’t sure how much overtime had been needed for cleanup, but the department plans for some overtime to be needed each year to account for storms.

The storm hit Brunswick hard, said city administrator Rick Weldon, with 90 percent of residents left in the dark Friday night. Only 65 customers were without power Monday, he said, adding, “Our water and wastewater ran on generators all weekend.”

The storm closed seven streets, and caused some minor damage to homes, but no injuries were reported.

To help those without power, cooling stations were opened at the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Company, the Brunswick Volunteer Fire Company and the Faith Baptist Church in Knoxville.

Employees at the Brunswick Hardware Store had to use flashlights and write paper bills for customers during the weekend, said Tony Strawsburg, vice president of the store. Power returned to the business around 1 p.m. Monday.

Customers “came in for parts for generators, gas cans, all the panic stuff,” he said. “A lot of them bought battery-powered fans. We’ll probably stock up on generators and [other panic items] for next time.”

Strawsburg estimates the store drew about 400 customers during the weekend — a typical amount.

Wayne Drozynski of Brunswick, whose power returned around 3 p.m. Monday, said he heard about the storm coming to the area from social media.

“I was kicking back and relaxing on my back porch with a glass of bourbon and a Pandora station ... and I posted on Facebook if anyone wanted to come hang out on my porch to bring their own bottle,” he said.

Soon after hearing about the impending storm from his Facebook friends, Drozynski said, everything went dark.

“It was black, black,” he said.

Drozynski said the wind took down a large silver maple in front of City Park on East Potomac Street, knocking out his power. But once it came back on, it was through the same online commenting that Drozynski found out the status of some of his fellow residents. Through the Brunswick Facebook group, Drozynski was able to find out important information about the outages and storm aftermath.

“There was a lot of communication back and forth that wasn't available when I was young,” he said. "I think [town officials] were on the Facebook group 24/7. [Town officials] were making sure people knew there was a cooling station.”

In Urbana, the Greenbriar Veterinary Hospital reached its capacity for kenneling dogs — about 400 — on Monday and was nearly at its limit of 30 cats, said team leader Melissa Norris.

“We had the phones ringing off the hook on Saturday,” she said. “They said, ‘I am without power, please take my dog.’ We said, ‘Absolutely.’”

She said about 60 to 70 families walked in on Saturday looking for a safe, cool place for their pets to stay.

Even though the kennels were full, Norris said the veterinary hospital worked to make accommodations if people had nowhere else to take their pets. That included kenneling a family’s dogs together, and working with families to help them find dog-friendly hotels.

Norris said the veterinary hospital lost power just after closing on Friday, and operated during the weekend on a back-up generator. The hospital regained power Monday morning.

Lincoln Elementary in Frederick also was without power on Monday.

Principal Ann Reever said she and her administrative staff came to work as usual without realizing that the school had no power. Without electricity, they could not use their swipe cards to get into the building and had to get a locksmith, Reever said. She and her employees tried to get as much work done as they could and left early.

“There is just nothing you can do without phones and computers,” she said. “You don’t realize how dependent you are on technology until you don’t have it.”

Other areas of the county fared a little better in the storm. Representatives from Middletown, New Market and Walkersville all reported no significant damage or power issues.

“There were some areas of Middletown that were out of power, but they were outside the city limits,” said Drew Bowen, Middletown’s town administrator.

New Market Mayor Winslow Burhans shared a similar report.

“We had a couple tree limbs come down in alleys and we had those cleared up,” he said. “There wasn’t anyone who didn’t have power to my knowledge.”

tlaino@gazette.netStaff Writers Erin Cunningham and Margarita Raycheva contributed to this report.