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Fourth day of storm recovery brings more power customers online

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Utility crews made significant progress Tuesday restoring power to homes without electricity since Friday night's storm, but officials in several jurisdictions announced they were canceling Independence Day celebrations as the recovery continues.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday morning that 75 percent of outages in Maryland had been restored, while Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell reported that power outages in Virginia had been reduced to a fraction of the 1.2 million customers left without lights and air conditioning in the wake of the storm.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, about 13,000 of 257,000 Pepco customers in the District were still without power. In Montgomery County, 68,000 of 310,000 customers remained in the dark, as did 15,000 of 226,000 Pepco customers in Prince George's County.

Dominion Virginia Power reported about 66,500 outages of 832,000 customers in Northern Virginia, with 109,000 statewide.

Crews from around the country have been assisting with restoration efforts, with Pepco using 2,700 workers. The utility expects to have power restored to the majority of customers by 11 p.m. Friday.

Many traffic signals without power Tuesday morning caused further problems. Mr. O'Malley said that of 265 signals in Maryland originally without power from the storm, 61 were still dark.

The storm, called a derecho, brought severe thunderstorms and 60 mph winds that left hundreds of thousands of people without power and brought hurricanelike damage to the area.

At least 24 people have died as a result of the storm that swept in from Chicago and the resulting outages, and the number of storm- and heat-related deaths in Virginia increased to 11 with a death reported Tuesday in Loudoun County. Details of the fatality were not immediately available.

Edward McDonough, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said a fourth storm-related fatality in Maryland occurred Monday in Garrett County when a contractor trimming a tree damaged in the storm fell 30 to 40 feet and died.

Mr. O'Malley told reporters that the state is heading into the most dangerous part of the recovery because of prolonged heat exposure and the extended time that many residents, especially senior citizens, have been forced to spend in the heat without air conditioning.

Mr. O'Malley said emergency rooms are seeing more storm-related visits, including a climb in carbon monoxide incidents and accidents involving tools such as chain saws.

As power is restored, Mr. O'Malley said the efforts become house-to-house and urged residents who do not have power to alert their utility company.

Because of the ongoing recovery effort, Montgomery County announced the cancellation of Independence Day events and fireworks in Kensington, Germantown, Rockville and Gaithersburg. Events in Poolesville and Takoma Park will go on.

"I made this very difficult decision based on the ongoing need to apply county police, fire and rescue, transportation and other county resources to help our residents who continue to be severely impacted by this recent storm," Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said in a statement.

Gaithersburg City Manager Tony Tomasello said the city's celebration could have taken place but was canceled as a gesture of regional cooperation. Mr. Tomasello said Pepco's trucks and equipment are working from the fairgrounds where the annual fireworks are launched.

"For us to relocate [the untility workers] for the fireworks show would have delayed the restoration efforts for the whole county," he said.

Mr. Tomasello said the city is hoping to reschedule the event in a couple of weeks.

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