At least 13 deaths blamed on eastern U.S. storms
(CBS/AP) Millions across the mid-Atlantic region sweltered Saturday in the aftermath of violent storms that pummeled the eastern U.S. with high winds and downed trees, killing at least 13 people and leaving 3 million without power during a triple-digit heat wave.
Power officials said the outages wouldn’t be repaired for several days to a week because of the sheer magnitude of the outages and the destruction, likening the damage to a serious hurricane. Emergencies were declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state had its largest non-hurricane outage in history, as more storms threatened. “This is a very dangerous situation,” the governor said.
“This is very unfortunate timing,” said Myra Oppel, a spokeswoman for Pepco, which reported over 400,000 outages in Washington and its suburbs. “We do understand the hardship that this brings, especially with the heat as intense at is. We will be working around the clock until we get the last customer on.”
The storm did damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although the bulk of it was in West Virginia, Washington and suburban Virginia and Maryland. At least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.
Especially at risk were children, the sick and the elderly. In Charleston, W.Va., firefighters helped several people using walkers and wheelchairs get to emergency shelters. One of them, Steve Gunnoe, uses a wheelchair and had to spend the night in the community room of his apartment complex because the power — and his elevator — went out. Rescuers went up five floors to retrieve his medication.