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Md. Copes With Sandy's Aftermath; More Than 3,000 Customers Still In The Dark

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Massive cleanup efforts are still underway days after superstorm Sandy tore through our area. The lights are still off for some as others are picking up the pieces.

Gigi Barnett has more.

Crews are still hard at work at the Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) staging area. The utility has restored power to 98 percent of its customers but for some, it's another night in the dark.

A massive tree took over a front yard in North Baltimore. Another was finally cut up and out of the road.

At the Conowingo Dam, emergency officials opened floodgates, sending millions of gallons pouring into the Susquehanna River.

And in Harford County, a giant cleanup effort continues. At the height of the storm, 50 roads were closed. About half of BGE customers in the county lost power as superstorm Sandy blew through.

"It's ridiculous because half of them came down and just looked at the line, about five of them, and then just left," Terri Bauer of Fallston said. "That's it. People were driving over a power line and I called and said, 'This is dangerous.'"

BGE is working overtime alongside out-of-state crews to fix the damage caused by superstorm Sandy.

In this Homeland neighborhood, more than 40 houses are in the dark.

"It was a mess. The tree was huge. It was probably a 200-year-old tree and it fell right across the lane," a resident said.

Extension cord after extension cord stretch across Tunbridge Road as neighbors that have power on one side of the street try to help the others that don't.

Generators powered up in Catonsville where a small pocket of homes still wait for utility crews.

"They said it was going to be on yesterday but we're still waiting," Bud Hampton said.

They are waiting through another chilly night for the lights to go back on.

More than 3,100 BGE customers are without power. More than 1,500 of those outages are in Baltimore County, more than 300 in Anne Arundel County and about 475 in Baltimore City. About 343,000 customers have been restored since the storm began.

Photo Gallery: Tracking Hurricane Sandy

Meanwhile, steady progress is being made to get people without electricity back online.

Alex DeMetrick has more on BGE's efforts.

Getting people and equipment staged before Sandy hit is paying off in power restoration now.

About 5,600 BGE workers, private contractors and out-of-state linemen have made a big dent in the 325,000 customers who lost power when Sandy hit.

"The wire came and hit the ground and we heard it when it exploded when it hit the ground," one resident said.

BGE says 95 percent of its customers have now been restored.

"They flickered and then they went off. And then they flickered again and went off," BGE customer Darlene Dunn said. "And I thought, 'Oh dear, they're teasing us.' But then they stayed on."

"And now, we turn our attention to the individual neighborhoods where it might be less, you know, 50 or 100 customers on one, in one area, or even onesies and twosies," said BGE spokesman Rob Gould. "And that's how we go about it. So we're into that process now."

BGE started work as soon as the winds died down, focusing first on places like hospitals and 911 centers. Then it moved onto repairs which connected 1,000 to 1,500 homes at a time. Those plunged into the dark made the best of it.

"We filled the refrigerator with ice, extra ice and everything," said BGE customer Don Rice. "We filled the bathtubs with water. Filled containers and everything with drinking water."

And for those still without power, waiting for those trucks to roll up:

"Until you get into a neighborhood and you can actually see all the types of damage that exists, whether it's the trees on top of our lines and our poles or the equipment, it's really hard to get that absolute certainty," said Gould. "So we're going to be really cautious in what we tell our customers from here on out."

Despite the caution, BGE says most everyone should have power back by Friday night, except for isolated pockets, where getting back on line will take until the weekend.

Customers can report outages and downed wires by calling 877-778-2222.

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