Halethorpe Neighbors Struggle Through Week Without Power
"I just can't wait for this to end," said Linda Watts of the 1800 block of Summit Ave.
Whatever your experience during the Great Blackout of 2012, chances are that the people living on the 1800 block of Summit Avenue in Halethorpe have had it worse.
On Saturday, Martin Crouse and his neighbors will enter their second week without electricity.
The 18-year-old, who is visiting his parents, Martin and Sandy, while on summer vacation from Florida's Jacksonville University, said that the family has been sleeping in the living room--one room cooled with a window air conditioner powered by a generator.
"My bedroom is so hot you can't even breathe in there," he said.
By Friday night--one week after the June 29 storm--power had been restored to 98 percent of the 725,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric customers in central Maryland left in the dark, according to the utility company's web site.
According to BGE, about 5,000 customers in Baltimore County--including 14 homes on the 1800 block of Summit--are still without power.
The remaining homes without power represent the most technically challenging and time-consuming repairs left in the system, said BGE spokesperson Rachel Lighty.
"It's like hand to hand combat at this point," she said. "It feels like these last few percentages are moving slower."
According to Lighty, restoring service to the last few people without power typically involves cutting and removing trees, repairing poles and equipment, hanging new electrical wires, "de-energizing" upstream facilities so that repairs can be done and other complex tasks.
"This is very time-intensive work for small numbers of customers," she said.
Aside from the damage left in the wake of the storm that swept through on June 29, BGE has been dealing with outages affecting 90,000 customers from severe storms in central Maryland on July 4th and 5th, according to Lighty
BGE still has 1,700 workers from 19 states and Canada assisting the utility's own 4,300 field and support personnel applied to the recovery from the June 29 storm, Lighty said.
"We haven't released any of the crews," she said. "Our guys are working double shifts, 16 hours a day. We're working as safetly and as efficiently as possible."
The effort being expended by utility crews is litte comfort to Josh Green and his family of five, whose lives have been in a sweltery holding pattern since the power went out on Summit Avenue.
"This has been one of the most ridiculous situations we've ever been in," he said. "It's interesting because you're using technology outside of our usual experience, like flashlights and candles."
A generator running non-stop has been supplying the Greens with enough juice to operate the refrigerator, freezer, and an air conditioner.
"Everybody's been pow-wowing in the living room," Green said. "It's made the week seem like two weeks."
Fortunately, the cable still works.
"We can watch television," Green said. "You can't see in the bathroom at night, but you can watch Law and Order Criminal Intent."
Across the street, Linda Watts stopped in the home where she lives with and takes care of her elderly father, Bernard Trescott, to pick up a few things.
"He couldn't take the heat," she said. "It was terrible. We're staying with my sister in Columbia. She has air conditioning."
Watt said that she has been unable to find out from BGE when her block-long street will have power.
Crouse said that BGE crews were out at around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday morning to replace a blown-out transformer. The new one blew up immediately, he said.
"I heard it explode," he said. "I thought it was 4th of July fireworks, but it was the transformer."
Green said that he was told by BGE that power may not be restored until Sunday or later.
Lighty confirmed that the power outage on Summit is due to a transformer. A work order for its replacement has been issued, but a crew has not yet been dispatched to make the repair.
Lighty said that a repair crew may be dispatched on Saturday.
Electricity can't come back soon enough for Watts and her neighbors.
"I just can't wait for this to end," Watts said. "My father can't wait to get back here."