Washington spared of the worst of Hurricane Sandy

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Photo - A downed tree caused by winds from Hurricane Sandy in Northwest D.C. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
A downed tree caused by winds from Hurricane Sandy in Northwest D.C. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Lisa Gartner

The Washington area breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday as Hurricane Sandy's predicted pummeling of the region felt more like a nudge.

The federal government planned to reopen Wednesday, with employees allowed to take unscheduled leave or to work from home. The Maryland, Virginia and the District governments siad they would reopen Wednesday, and in most cases, their school systems said the same. But Arlington and Alexandria school officials were still assessing power outages and flood damage as of early Tueday evening.

(See a photo gallery of storm images and follow the latest updates from the Examiner)

Metro resumed service on a limited schedule at 2 p.m., and said buses, trains and the MetroAccess service for the disabled would operate normally on Wednesday. At noon Tuesday, the city suspended the $15 surcharge taxi cabs were allowed to charge for driving in hazarous conditions.

Power outages as of 4:40 p.m. Tuesday
Dominion
Northern Virginia 59,294
Pepco
District 1,784
Montgomery County 2,987
Prince George's County 1,680
Baltimore Gas and Electric
Montgomery County 1,515
Prince George's County 1,534

More than 250,000 area residents lost power during the storm, which made landfall late Monday evening. As of noon Tuesday, about 134,000 residents, mostly in Northern Virginia, were still waiting for their power to be restored. Dozens of roads were flooded or blocked throughout the region. But the overall impact was far less significant than what local officials had forecasted, and much less dire than the situation in the New York, where 2 million were without power Tuesday afternoon.

(Watch storm videos from the D.C. region and the latest videos from around the country)

"We were very very fortunate to be on the kinder end of this very violent storm," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said.

Still, Sandy claimed victims in the Washington area: at least two Maryland residents and two Virginia men were among the 33 people nationwide killed in the storm. A Montgomery County woman died in a car accident and an Anne Arundel County man was killed when a tree fell into his home. Also, the Maryland medical examiner is investigating the death of a Prince George's County man in a car accident Tuesday morning. Two Richmond men died early Tuesday when their vehicle crashed into a light pole, the winds and rain playing a fatal role.

(Need shelter? See a map of locations)

On the whole, Hurricane Sandy paralyzed Washington on Monday and Tuesday as its heavy rainfall and intense winds Monday and early Tuesday morning prompted the shutdown of the federal government, all local governments and school systems, and Metro.

Although the worst of Sandy was over Tuesday, officials warned that more damage could be on the horizon. The National Weather Service said it expected the Potomac River to flood Wednesday and Thursday at a rate unseen in 15 years. Alexandria officials handed out sandbags to residents Tuesday afternoon.

And a power outage at a Howard County water treatment plant Monday night sent more than 1 million gallons of sewage per hour spilling into the Chesapeake Bay.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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Lisa Gartner

Examiner Staff Writer - education
The Washington Examiner