Region's Residents, Utilities Brace for Storms

In advance of some potentially serious storms, people are worried about losing power at their homes and businesses.

FEMA recommends residents prepare emergency supplies kits as well as an alternate plan if electricity is lost.

At Brown's Hardware in Falls Church, Va., the customers and the calls started coming in late Wednesday morning.

"We had a call for a lightning rod for someone’s generator," employee John Taylor said.

The family-owned hardware store is helping its customers, many who live in older homes on tree-lined streets, as they get ready to face the possibility of an extended period of time without electricity.

Many bear the lessons of last summer, when thousands of Falls Church residents spent an extended period without power following the derecho storm.

"There is potential that this could be a storm that has significant impact in our service area,” said Le-ha Anderson of Dominion Virginia Power, which has crews on standby.

"There’s something called mutual aid, and all the utilities work together,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it involves bringing in crews from states beyond our neighboring states, but we are here for each other. We also have contractors, and again, we have excellent crews, so I think we are well prepared.”

Pepco’s Myra Oppel said they’re similarly ready to respond to outages in Maryland and D.C.

"We’re in two different mutual assistance groups,” said Myra Oppel, of Pepco. “So in situations like last summer’s derecho, where storms are widespread and damage is widespread and nearby utilities won’t release their crews because they also have damage, you go further afield to look for crews."

At Hardware City on Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, Md., display stands bulging with batteries were placed prominently. Many of their customers also live in older residential areas with tree-lined streets and want to be prepared in case the power goes out.

Pepco has been attempting to improve service in advance of summer storms. As for the company's customer service, they now have an app for that.

“That’s available for download at,” said Myra Oppel of Pepco.

Flooding remains a concern, especially for residents of the Bloomingdale neighborhood in northeast Washington.

“We generally now also locate a crew right at the corner of Rhode Island and First Street in Bloomingdale so we have people on site throughout the storm to be able to react and call in resources that are needed,” said George Hawkins of DC Water. “We’re already to go.”

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said it also completed storm preparations in advance but warned any disruptions of service during the storm could be longer than normal as necessary to maintain worker safety.

WSSC said it filled the water distribution system to capacity, filled the chemical storage tanks necessary to maintain water quality, topped off the fuel tanks of all vehicles, and placed additional staff for its control center, emergency dispatch center and maintenance crews on standby.

As a safety precaution, WSSC’s recreation areas on the watershed around the Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs will be closed tomorrow. It is closely monitoring the level of the Brighton and Duckett dams, lowering the level by opening gates at Duckett ahead of the rain.

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