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Major Storms Rip Through Washington Metro Area

Pepco Assesses Major Damage

Fast-moving thunderstorms with winds exceeding 60 miles-per-hour raked the Washington area today, knocking out power to about 160,000 customers and causing extensive damage to Pepco's electric system. The storm toppled numerous trees onto power lines and also blew debris into the lines. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed but power restoration could likely take several days, with the threat that additional severe weather tonight will cause further damage.

Additional crews are now in place and responding to the extensive damage to the electric system. The crews are encountering roads blocked due to fallen trees and downed wires as they conduct a damage assessment that is critical before total restoration can begin.

When our system is damaged by severe weather, Pepco repairs equipment using a system of priorities that have been developed taking into account public safety, community needs and the nature of the electric system. We work first to correct potentially life-threatening situations such as downed wires and public health and safety facilities without power. We then work downstream, beginning with any problems with the transmission or large distribution lines and focus on restoring power in a sequence that gets service to the greatest number of customers as quickly as possible.

Until power is restored, here are tips to keep you safe, protect your food, home and belongings:
Safety

  • Pepco strongly encourages customers to make safety a priority. Stay away from downed power lines. All downed lines should be treated as if they are energized, and individuals should not approach them or touch them. If you see a downed wire call Pepco at 202-872-3432.
  • Keep away from flooded areas and stay indoors. If you experience a power outage, check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage, don't turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs. Remember, electricity and water is a dangerous combination. Even wading in a shallow puddle or flooded basement that is exposed to an energized line could lead to harmful electrical contact.


Protecting Your Food

  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed; open them only when absolutely necessary. Food will stay frozen for 36 - 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed.
  • A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.

Protecting Your Home and Belongings

  • Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and water pump. That way, you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
  • Leave on one lamp so you will know that the power has been restored. 

It is Important to be Prepared
As part of our storm preparedness information, we encourage customers to always keep these items on hand:

  • Flashlights and fresh batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock
  • A supply of bottled water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable foods that require no heating
  • Blankets, bedding, or sleeping bags
  • First Aid Kit & medications
  • Hand-operated can opener
  • Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs
  • Hand tools such as a screwdriver; scissors; duct tape; plastic; paper; waterproof matches; household bleach
  • Identification and copies of important family documents
  • Emergency Services and Pepco telephone numbers

It is recommended that these items be stored ahead of time in an "Emergency Go Kit" in order to save valuable time and to be prepared in the event of a wide variety of potential emergencies.

For more safety and emergency preparedness tips, log onto the Pepco Storm Center, www.pepco.com.

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Pepco, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), delivers safe, reliable and affordable electric service to more than 750,000 customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

© Potomac Electric Power Company, 2019. All Rights Reserved.