Gaithersburg Residents Stranded After Storm, Plea for Help
Residents cut off from emergency access describe a frustrating waiting game.
(UPDATED, 10:57 a.m., 7/3) -- Tammy Hartwell spent Monday night on the floor in her mother-in-law’s basement. The cool surface was one of the few comforts available to her while she waited for officials to remove a tree that left everyone on her block stranded, with no road access, no power and no water, she said.
Like thousands of Montgomery County residents, Hartwell has been without power and other amenities since Friday’s storm. The destruction left by the powerful system prompted Gov. Martin O’Malley to declare a state of emergency, and the county to open cooling stations to beat the coinciding heat.
The sudden nature of the storm has left PEPCO and several county and state agencies scrambling to address the needs of residents in areas like Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village. As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, PEPCO reported 121,309 customers were still without power in Montgomery County.
PEPCO maintains a database that provides the latest number of customers affected by the outages, but Hartwell said her experience so far has been conflicting.
“We still keep reporting it,” she said. “My neighbor got a live person this morning, and she said their records show that our power was restored as of 4 a.m. yesterday.”
“It” is a large tree on top of a power line that has blocked Hartwell’s road since Friday night. So far attempts to have it removed have been futile, she said.
Hartwell said five households, or at least 10 people, on her block are unable to leave the neighborhood and have no access for emergency vehicles.
Her and her neighbors’ homes in the Sharon Woods neighborhood are also not connected to the county water system, she said. Her house on the unit block of Rolling Knoll Court is like dozens of others situated off Emory Grove Road – it uses well water, which requires pressure, and their sinks and bathrooms have none of it.
PEPCO has reported that it could take more than a week to restore power to all its customers.
In his blog this weekend, Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers advised residents to use extreme caution when cleaning up storm damage.
“Keep your distance from any downed power lines and call 911 to report them,” it stated Saturday.
Hartwell said late Monday she heeded the message, and crews successfully removed the tree and power line from her road.
Meanwhile, her family has been making do. They’ve secured drinking water and remain focused on damage control, she said.
“We’ve got two refrigerators full of food, and my mother-in-law is out of town so we’re cleaning hers too,” Hartwell said.
To report a power outage in Montgomery County:
- Call PEPCO at (877) 737-2662.
- Submit via this online form.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Rolling Knoll Court is in Gaithersburg, not Montgomery Village. Patch regrets the error.