Source:  and Donna St. George

With much of Montgomery County still without power and ongoing 911 problems continuing across Northern Virginia on Sunday afternoon, local officials vowed to press utilities to restore service more quickly.

“I will not accept the timetable of July the 6th, said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), shortly after Pepco announced some homes would not have their power restored until Friday or even later. “Having our citizens go seven days without utilities in my opinion is not the kind of service we should expect.” 

With recovery from Friday night’s storm stretching into the week ahead, school officials in the District, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties announced that the schools would be closed Monday for summer sessions and other events. And Maryland declared liberal leave for all non-essential state employees. But all federal agencies are set to open Monday, though officials said workers could take unscheduled leave or telework.

District government, however, is expected to be open on Monday, officials said. Dozens of city traffic signals remain without power. But Paul Quander, the District’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said traffic control officers will be in place at anticipated trouble spots for the Monday morning commute.

At 7 p.m., about 608,000 Washington-area businesses and households — one in three of the region’s electric customers — remained out of service, according to data furnished on utility websites.

Pepco requested 1,000 additional crews, but initially found fewer than 200 available. Many of the utilities Pepco typically relies on for “mutual aid” after severe storms — in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — were also severely affected by Friday’s storm.

“What we’re asking for, everyone is asking for, because we’re all in the same position,” Graham said.

The disruptions of daily life from Friday night’s storm continued throughout the region, as temperatures once against crept past 90 degrees.

Arlington County has 53 intersections without traffic signals, an improvement from about 80 on Saturday.

Fairfax County officials said 911 service, which was disrupted as a result of the storm, is only partially restored. People who can’t reach 911 should call 703-691-7561 or 703-691-3680. The 911 service in the city of Manassas was still not working Sunday afternoon, and officials said people needing help should call the police non-emergency number 703-257-8000. Arlington residents were advised to call the non-emergency number 703-558-2222.

Some Northern Virginians who called 911 Saturday were able to get through to police and fire agencies, but not always the ones in their own counties.

Alexandria fielded 36 emergency calls for Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church and the Virginia State Patrol between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., city officials said. Alexandria police and fire staff contacted the proper agency by radio and passed the information along. The 911 system is designed to route calls to the nearest jurisdiction if callers can’t get through to their own city or county.

A Verizon spokesman said a power failure in one of its Arlington County facilities caused both technical and mechanical damage that resulted in the 911 outage, but the company has been working around-the-clock to restore full service. The Fairfax and Prince William County 911 call centers are now receiving most emergency calls, said Harry J. Mitchell, Verizon’s director of public relations. But Manassas and Manassas Park are still without 911.

The facility that went down “provided routing for the 911 call centers. Some 911 calls were sent without addresses,” Mitchell said. “Full power is now back on, and we’re working to resolve whatever issues remain so we can get” back to normal.

The 911 failure was a unique event, he said. “We have extensive plans for backup power and they work without a hitch most of the time. In the case of Arlington, this issue affected both our primary and backup systems.”

Mitchell said he wasn’t blaming Dominion Virginia Power, which provides electricity to Verizon’s facility, because that company was dealing with extensive outages. “We’re very very committed to getting this cleared up as soon as possible,” he said.

But officials were not placated.

“I don’t ever remember 911 system going down, and it happened exactly at the time when we needed it most,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “Why was there not a backup or something? ”

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said his administration has inquired into the 911 outages affecting Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties.

 

The highest level of outages — just shy of 60 percent — was reported for Pepco service to Montgomery County. There, about 184,000 customers remained in the dark.

Across Prince George’s County, about 84,000 Pepco customers and 35,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric customers remained without power — reflecting 37 percent and 44 percent outage rates, respectively. Across Northern Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power reported that about 27 percent of customers had no power, with about 227,000 total affected. And in the District, Pepco reported nearly 66,000 without power — about one in four.

Dominion officials said most customers would have power by Tuesday, though everyone will not have electricity restored until next weekend.BG&E officials also said it would take most of the week to get all the power up running.

Though the number of people affected by power outages was dropping throughout the day, the anger of public officials was palpable.

“Nobody will have their boot further up Pepco’s backside than I will,” said Md. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Pepco regional president Thomas H. Graham declined to be more precise other than to offer a “global” estimate that power would be restored to 90 percent of interrupted customers by Friday night.

Responding to concerns aired by many residents that few power crews have been seen in neighborhood streets, executives said that restoration efforts to date have been focused on restoring the high-voltage lines feeding the substations that in turn send power into neighborhoods.

Graham said crews from Missouri, Oklahoma and New Brunswick, Canada, are en route to assist with restoration efforts, but it could be days before some arrive.