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City, County Leaders Consider Ways To Better Prepare For Severe Storms

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POWER LINES
Monique Griego 370x278 Monique Griego
Monique Griego joined the WJZ News Team in July 2011 as a General...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— City and county leaders are posing some tough questions for local utility companies after a recent storm left hundreds of thousands without power for days or even longer.

Monique Griego has more on what they want to know.

Their main concern is how we can be better prepared for another storm. But they also want more done to prevent heat-related deaths.

Heavy rain and hurricane-like winds destroyed neighborhoods and left millions without power across the mid-Atlantic.

“Oh, it was hot. It was terrible,” said Viola Bowers, who lost service for several days.

But in a neighborhood off Lake Avenue, the damage was even worse. Homeowners were in the dark for a week or longer.

“People who drove around said that this looked it was the epicenter,” said Nancy Maronick.

Now city and county leaders are asking BGE and Pepco one main question.

“What else can they be doing to prepare us better when these incidents occur?” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Kamenetz is one of seven leaders from Maryland’s largest jurisdictions to sign off on a letter to the Public Service Commission. In it they ask the PSC to press the companies on several issues, including how to prevent such widespread outages and whether their staffing and equipment are adequate.

Because most of the outages were caused by falling trees, Kamenetz says one of the most important and costly things the PSC needs to look at is the idea of burying power lines in certain neighborhoods.

Statewide, there were 19 heat-related deaths. So to help those in need, the letter also criticizes the utilities’ refusal to disclose outage locations.

“We would like to have better information as to where outages have taken place, so we can send our resources out there to offer assistance,” Kamenetz said.

Neighbors like Maronick say they’re not upset with workers who scrambled to restore service.

“I think that given the severity of the storms that we’re having and the frequency, that they need to come up with a better plan,” she said.

While city and county leaders know burying lines will be expensive, they say it’s still an option that needs to be looked at.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has also supported looking into the idea of burying power lines.

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