Nearly five days after the super derecho storm violently blew through the Midwest and East Coast of the U.S., more than 1 million Americans remain in the dark Tuesday -- and many will likely spend the Fourth of July barbequeing without electricity and biting their tongues over how long it is taking to restore power.
At least 22 deaths have been linked to the blackout, which is coinciding with the summer's first intense regional heat wave. The power outages, caused mostly by fallen tree branches and other wind-tossed debris, were still affecting an estimated 1.4 million people in seven states and the District of Columbia.
The term derecho, which means straight in Spanish, refers to a large and powerful wind storm moving in one direction over long distances.
American Electric Power Company, Inc. (NYSE: AEP), which serves portions of 11 states, said Tuesday it was working to restore power to about 700,000 residents in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, according to Reuters. FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) said 216,000 of its customers were still without electricity in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.
Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), which supplies power to Washington, D.C., and parts of Maryland and New Jersey, is on the defensive as 185,000 of its customers languish in the heat for the fourth day running.
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The utility, which has faced criticism before for its response to winter power outages, has requested help from utility repair experts from as far away as Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley used colorful speech to describe his frustration over the utility's response.
Nobody will have their boot further up Pepco's backside than I will, the governor said at a Monday press conference.
Not everyone was quick to lash out at Pepco; the head of Washington D.C.'s Metro subway system, Richard Sarles, praised the utility for quickly restoring power to the transportation system.
The Edison Electric Institute estimates that 4.3 million residents in total lost power due to the 600-mile band of storms that inflicted high winds across the region on Friday.