The failure of PEPCO

Written by on July 24, 2012 in Americas, Blog, Maryland - 8 Comments

It’s the perfect summer night to be lulled to sleep by nature.

Outside my window, I can hear light rain drops plunk gently off plump green leaves. Frogs whirring their mating calls.

Except, it’s not a perfect summer night.

It’s the worst night the DC Metro area has had in … as long as anyone can remember.

Mixed with that calm and peace of the summer orchestra is the ear-splitting buzz of a chainsaw, the hum of generators. The fresh smell of rain is replaced by gasoline that hangs thick in the humid June night.

Only a few hours earlier, my parents had warned me we were getting a major storm from Chicago. A derecho (basically a tidal wave of wind and storms that are rare).

A radar look at the derecho storm that hit Maryland

Then, as the sun set and the crickets took over, the wind picked up. Rushing across the landscape at 90 mph, the powerful wind carved a path of destruction. Transformers blew. Thick, old trees were uprooted. Trampolines (yes, trampolines) were tossed into the middle of the street. Like a tornado, but without the quickness.

And, the night sky glowed almost a continuous pale blue from electricity cutting into it.

I was inside for most of it, looking out the window as the lightning splashed across the sky. From my safe confines, I didn’t hear the wind whip outside. I didn’t hear the cracking of branches and the bangs when they hit the ground.

As I drove home after the storm, a graveyard of trees littered the streets. Barely noticeable until on them, oncoming cars would flash their lights in warning.

When I pulled into my neighborhood, I couldn’t even get to my house because a huge portion of tree was splayed across the road.

This storm … it’s serious.

The aftermath of the storm damage in Maryland

The spot my car would have been parked …

Trees broken from the derecho storm damage in Maryland

An old tree, that was one full and towering, is splintered from the extreme wind gusts.

More storm damage from the derecho in Maryland

Nearly an entire tree rests on the ground after the storm.

PEPCO, our power supplier, only manages to supply power back to half of our neighborhood. Within 48 hours after the storm. Us? We aren’t nearly as lucky.

For six days, there is no power. My parents suffer more than I do. I hightail it to friends houses to stay cool and panic about the projects I have to do and the lack of power. There’s little cell service. Internet is down. Cable is down. It’s hot. It’s humid. People are cranky and mean.

The line at McDonald's after the derecho

The only place open for food in a 10-mile radius? McDonald’s. This line took about 45 minutes.

A wine tasting during the power outage at Safeway

A day after the storm, powered by backup generators, Safeway taps into our boredom and a distributor comes in to do a wine sampling.

My neighborhood is one of the last to have power restored.

When it comes on, I feel relieved. Stressed at the amount of work I have to do before I leave America … in five days. But happy to have my house back and time with my family. Home.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2010 she quit her job in PR to go on a solo backpacking adventure and tackle her 30-Life-Crisis. After seven months abroad, journeying throughout Europe and Africa, she returned to America and relocated to Las Vegas. Following a year-long stint back in PR, she once again quit her job to follow her dreams; this time her journey took her to the elephants and Elephant Nature Park where she is involved with raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. Recently, Diana was named a finalist in the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. She has been a regular contributor to Viator and recently served as the Las Vegas contributor for OneTravel.com and CheapOair.com. Her work has appeared in print and online, including The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Vegas Seven, World Nomads and more.

8 Comments on "The failure of PEPCO"

  1. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy July 25, 2012 at 9:16 am · Reply

    Six days without power? Crazy. I think I was asleep the whole night when the storm came through here and fortunately it didn’t cause as much damage. Maybe the spotty power is good preparation for when you go back abroad?

    • Diana July 26, 2012 at 1:24 am · Reply

      My dad slept through the storm! So far, the power has only gone out once in Thailand. And it was back up in an hour. During which time I simply was downstairs having a beer. :)

  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm · Reply

    Wow, six days. There have been so many intense storms recently, and just wacky weather overall. Hello, global warming.

    • Diana July 26, 2012 at 1:22 am · Reply

      Right? Horrid.

  3. Rease July 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm · Reply

    Wow, what a rough goodbye to the US! I’m glad you didn’t get hurt and your car was not crushed by a tree!

    • Diana July 30, 2012 at 3:29 am · Reply

      It was rough, but ended well. Power back on for the last few days! I am so glad my car wasn’t parked under that tree. I would have been so angry!!

  4. Jeremy August 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm · Reply

    Wow, 6 days!? I remember when a crazy storm like this blew through Philadelphia when I was a kid and we lost power for like 3 days and I wanted to kill myself with no AC!

    • Diana August 20, 2012 at 9:28 am · Reply

      Yeah, six days. Fortunately, I had a good friend that let me live with her for those days. It was just a bummer because I had really wanted to spend time with my family, but everyone was miserable and hot. No AC in the dead of summer heat wave? HORRID.

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