More storms could slow pace of power restoration

The city also decided to postpone the closure of three fire companies once again — the second postponement since the storm hit — as fire officials help the city recover from the storms.

The companies — East Baltimore's Truck 15, West Baltimore's Truck 10 and Southeast Baltimore's Engine 11 — had been set to close Sunday morning as a cost-cutting measure, but the department has decided to keep them open until Monday at 7 a.m., the fire officers' union said. Union president Michael Campbell said the firefighters learned of the change by citywide email Tuesday.

"Evidently somebody's coming to the realization that we need these companies," Campbell said.

Public safety workers around the region were also checking for problems with generators. Howard County firefighters canvassing neighborhoods found lethal levels of carbon monoxide from a generator in an Ellicott City garage on Font Hill Drive. They were able to alert the resident and move the generator to a safe location.

And downed lines still pose safety hazards. The storm brought power lines down near Joe Surkiewicz's house in Homeland on Friday night. His wife called BGE, which sent two contractors Sunday, giving Surkiewicz hope that his power would soon be back on.

But, no. As of midday Tuesday, it was still off. Instead, BGE has had a pair of workers watching the downed wires round the clock since Sunday, he said. The utility routinely posts office workers or other spare staff at downed lines to make sure the public keeps a safe distance until repairs can be made, Gould said.

Still, Surkiewicz criticized the practice as he waited for his power to be restored.

"They're nice guys, but what kind of use of manpower is that?" Surkiewicz asked. "How many other people [with] downed lines have two guys sitting in a truck, running all night long?"

As far as he knows, his is the only house on the block that lost power. So he figures he's far down on the priority list. But on the flip side, "we've gotten lots of sympathy and help."

"Without asking, a neighbor brought in an extension cord and we plugged the refrigerator in," he said.

Tree cleanup continued to keep contractors busy Tuesday, even with the largest felled branches cleared.

Bill Cooch had planned to have his tree removal team wait out the oppressive heat that was forecast last weekend, and take up a few jobs on the Fourth of July. But, the snap, crackle, pop that rang through the air as he stood on the deck of his home Friday night confirmed that his plans would change.

"Everybody's happy to see us," Cooch said Tuesday, as his Forester Tree Service team began a fourth day of near around-the-clock work. "Nobody wants to see anybody in turmoil, and see people's stuff busted up, but it's good for the tree and roofing business."

He said the only aggravation comes when residents realize his team is not there to restore power.

Lochearn resident Mark Parrish watched as Forester crews lifted the very same tree he complained to Baltimore County about years ago from the roof of the garage he built eight years ago. It left a caved roof, significant water damage, and a $2,400 price tag.

"We always thought, 'Well, if a tree lands on our house, we could always sleep in the garage,'" he said. "Guess that's out."

Baltimore Sun reporters Annie Linskey, Liz Bowie, Jamie Smith Hopkins, Luke Broadwater and Erica L. Green contributed to this article.

An earlier version incorrectly included the Augsburg Lutheran Home among nursing homes in Maryland that were without air conditioning after storms caused widespread power outages. The facility had air conditioning in 70 percent of its rooms at the time, spokesman George Clemes said.