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Thousands Still Without Power in South Carolina, Washington After Storms

June 19, 1989

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ An estimated 15,000 South Carolinians still had no electricity Monday, three days after a deadly thunderstorm ripped through the state’s mid-section, officials said.

In Washington, D.C., where 72,000 customers lost power after a string of storms last week, about 3,100 residents and businesses remained in the dark Monday.

At least 100,000 customers in the greater Columbia area lost power when a storm packing 78 mph wind struck Friday. One man was killed when a tree fell on his truck.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. crews worked around the clock through the weekend to restore service, but some 10,000 to 15,000 customers remained powerless Monday, spokesman Brian Duncan said.

″We’re making some steady progress, but we’re looking at tomorrow (Tuesday) night before everything’s back on,″ Duncan said.

People without power were coping as best they could, stocking up on dry ice, using outdoor grills to cook frozen meat before it could spoil and using battery-operated lamps.

″We’re about dying here, we’ve got no air conditioning,″ said Hugh Munn from his office at the State Law Enforcement Division. ″I wish you could see my office. There are no windows. We’ve got two fans. Doors are open, much as we can; we’ve got to keep security.″

At the Bryton Pointe apartment complex in northern Columbia, residents had placed a steady stream of phone calls to the manager’s office asking when power would be restored, manager Susie Holland said.

″But everyone’s been pretty understanding as far as the apartment complex goes. I don’t know how they feel about SCE&G,″ said Ms. Holland, who noted that fallen trees in the parking lot and the lack of power hadn’t hurt business.

″We have leased three apartments with no electricity. I don’t know what it is. It must be attractive by candlelight,″ she said.

The power was restored at Judy Priester’s home about noon Monday, much to the joy of her, her husband, Mel, and their four children, all under age 7. The lack of power had halted water pumps in their area.

″We all came home and just cheered when we found the lights worked and the toilets flushed,″ she said.

Since Friday night, SCE&G had replaced more than 250 utility poles and 100 miles of wire, said Bill Lide, another SCE&G spokesman.

He said the cost of the restoration effort probably would not be tallied for a few weeks, ″but if it doesn’t break a million dollars, I would be surprised.″

At one point, an estimated 10,000 customers in the Lancaster area, about 60 miles north of Columbia, also were without power, but service was restored by Sunday, a spokeswoman for Duke Power Co. said.

In Washington, Potomac Electric Power Co. officials said Monday that about 3,100 customers were still without electricity, down from a maximum of 172,000 who lost service following last week’s series of powerful thunderstorms.

About 150,000 customers lost electrical service Wednesday and 22,000 lost power Thursday, according to Pepco, serves the nation’s capital and suburban Maryland. The storm did almost no damage in suburban Virginia.

Pepco spokesman Tom Welle said most of the remaining outages were in northwest Washington and the affluent suburbs of Bethesda and Chevy Chase, Md.

″The storm was so severe that in many cases it uprooted entire trees and brought them down on power lines,″ Welle said. ″What we have left on the ground is splinters and a tangle of electrical wires.″

According to the National Weather Service, wind speeds of more than 70 mph were recorded during the height of Wednesday’s storm.

Pepco distributed 450,000 pounds of dry ice to keep food cool, Welle said.

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