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Storms unleash fury in U.S.

July 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 26 (UPI) -- Utilities say it may be days before power is fully restored in the Washington area, hit by treacherous thunderstorms officials blamed for three deaths.

Crews worked through the night into Monday trying to restore power to tens of thousands of people after storms accompanied by hurricane-force winds plowed down trees and power lines, sparked fires and damaged buildings, The Washington Post reported.

Officials said a 6-year-old boy was struck and killed by a falling section of a tree in Virginia's Loudoun County and a woman was killed in College Park, Md., when a tree fell on a minivan. Warren D. Smith, 63, of Annapolis, Md., was killed when he was knocked off a water craft as he and a friend tried to make shelter near Maryland's Bay Bridge, Maryland Natural Resources Police said.

A spokeswoman for Pepco, the region's hardest-hit utility, said power might not be fully restored until Thursday. Pepco has called in extra crews from a utility in Ohio but they will not be able to join forces with Pepco's 185 emergency crews until Tuesday morning, the Post reported.

A Dominion Power spokesman said the utility company expected to have power restored to most of its Northern Virginia customers by Monday night or Tuesday.

Power was cut off to a plant supplying 70 percent of the water for Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, the Post said.

Residents in Chicago's western suburb of Westchester waded through mud and muck Sunday. Officials blamed two days of torrential rains for flooding by Addison Creek, and for overwhelming the city's aging sewage system, the Chicago Sun-Times said. Heavy rains wreaked similar havoc in Cicero and other areas around Chicago.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said all 190 miles of the Deep Tunnel system filled quickly, forcing the district to open floodgates in Wilmette and on the Chicago River to release storm water into Lake Michigan. The release forced officials to close Chicago beaches Sunday and Monday to swimming.

Parts of western New York were cleaning up debris of at least one confirmed tornado that hit Mayville in Chautauqua County and possibly two other twisters reported elsewhere in the region, The Buffalo News reported Sunday.

No injuries were reported. In the Randolph area, power lines were down and trees littered the roads. Officials said homes and businesses could be without power for several days.

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