(Newsroom America) -- Pepco crews have restored power to major parts of the backbone of the Mid Atlantic region’s electricity infrastructure but hundreds of thousands are still without power in sweltering heat following a devastating weather bomb.
More than a dozen people have reportedly killed as a result of the storm.
Temperatures were forecast to reach close to 100 degrees Temperatures Sunday, continuing a heat wave that began on Friday.
Both Maryland and the District of Columbia have declared a state of emergency as a result of the severity of the storm and its damaging impact. Local Emergency Management agencies have opened cooling centers and shopping malls are also available for cooling relief.
Reports said over 700,000 were still without power at noon on Sunday, and Pepco estimates that the vast majority of customers, at least 90 percent, are expected to have power restored by 11 p.m., Friday, July 6.
Power to all high-voltage transmission lines and all substations has been restored. As well, all water pumping plants have been restored.
Damage assessment teams continue to evaluate the destruction to the system so that the information will be used to guide the restoration effort, said Pepco. Additional damage assessment teams have been brought in from outside the company to assist in this effort.
Also on Saturday, tree crews worked to clear fallen trees off of downed power lines so utility crews could rebuild or replace the damaged poles, wires and transformers. More than 60 additional vegetation management crews from the Carolinas were due to arrive on Sunday.
Mutual assistance crews are scheduled to arrive Monday from as far away as Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Missouri to help with the restoration work. Pepco also is reaching out to utilities in the Northeast and Canada for additional resources. In all, the company has asked for 1,000 line workers from other utilities, however, given the widespread damage across the region, it has been a challenge and it is possible that only a portion of the extra help will be available.
The storm that meteorologists are calling a “derecho” brought winds in excess of 70 miles per hour that uprooted trees and tore off limbs, which brought down numerous power lines and broke crossarms and poles. Line crews, tree crews, call center staff and field support personnel have been deployed around the clock to support efforts to restore service. All Pepco employees have been mobilized for the restoration effort.
Despite crews working around the clock to restore service as quickly as possible, it could take a week before essentially all customers are back in service.
Pepco has activated its Crisis Call Center and reached out to other call centers for added support. On Saturday, Pepco made outbound calls to all customers to update them on the restoration status. All outages and downed wires should be reported to 1-877-737-2662, through pepco.com or through the mobile app, available for downloading at pepco.com/mobileapp. Customers should request a call back to verify their power has been restored.