Published July 01, 2012
WASHINGTON – Multiple governors declared emergencies as temperatures rose in the aftermath of powerful storms that swept through the mid-Atlantic region Friday night, resulting in at least 13 deaths and leaving more than three million without power.
Under the statewide emergency declaration, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio, can utilize all government resources immediately to help those in need. The District of Columbia also declared a state of emergency.
Gov. John Kasich cited widespread power losses in Ohio, utility damages and excessive heat that could create crisis conditions for some Ohioans. State emergency officials say 800,000 to 1 million people still had power outages Saturday morning.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency after more than 500,000 customers in 27 counties were left without electricity. Current estimates have 688,000 people without power in the state. Tomblin's office says the state is running out of fuel and they're fearful that they will run out of gas.
Also in West Virginia, 232 Amtrak passengers spent Friday night on a train that was blocked on both sides by trees that fell on the tracks..
On Saturday night, the train passengers stranded near rural Prince, West Virginia, were loaded into buses after they got stuck at 11 p.m. the previous evening, said Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm. Kulm said the train bound from New York to Chicago had power, so lights and air conditioning were working. He said that since it's a long-distance train, it was stocked with food and crew members were able to get to town to buy more.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state had its largest non-hurricane power outage in its history. There are 2.5 million without power.
The storm did damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although the bulk of it was in West Virginia, Washington and suburban Virginia and Maryland.
There were six reported deaths in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home, a police spokeswoman said Saturday. Another man was killed by a falling tree while watching the storm from his deck and a woman died after she, too, was hit by a falling tree after she got out of her car to observe a downed tree. Both those deaths occurred in Albermarle County, Va. A fallen tree also killed a man driving in Maryland, and another resident was killed in a separate incident. A woman was also killed when a barn collapsed in Ohio.
Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.
Widespread power outages were reported from Indiana to New Jersey, with the bulk of the service interruptions concentrated on Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas. Earlier Friday, the nation's capital reached 104 degrees -- topping a record of 101 set in 1934.
More than 20 elderly residents at an apartment home in Indianapolis were displaced when the facility lost power due to a downed tree. Most were bused to a Red Cross facility to spend the night, and others who depend on oxygen assistance were given other accommodations, the fire department said.
The storms, sometimes packing 70 mph winds, toppled three tractor trailers on Interstate 75 near Findlay, Ohio.
"Our officers and firefighters are out there with power saws, trying to clear the streets," Jennings said.
At least four utility poles fell on a road in Columbus, Ohio, making it too dangerous for people in four cars to get out, police said. One person was taken to a hospital.
As of 1 a.m. Saturday, Pepco was reporting 406,000 outages in the District of Columbia and Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Md.
"We have more than half our system down," said Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel. "This is definitely going to be a multi-day outage."
Amtrak suspended its service from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia due to the storms, at least until mid-morning. Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia reporting some power issues with a computer system that handles airline departure/arrival information.
In the Washington, D.C., area, the Metrorail subway trains were returned to their endpoints due to the storms and related damage, officials said.
"It has had a widespread effect on the region," Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said early Saturday. He said about 17 train stations were operating on backup power due to local power outages, but that he didn't anticipate service being disrupted on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report