Violent storms kill at least 12, leave 3 million without power on east coast

Posted on: 5:33 pm, July 1, 2012, by , updated on: 08:38pm, July 1, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Violent storms that battered the eastern U.S. are being blamed for killing at least 12 people and leaving more than three million without power.

At least six people were killed in Virginia; two in New Jersey; two in Maryland; one in Washington, D.C.; and one in Ohio. Widespread power outages were reported in Washington, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio.

Many are facing the possibility of temperatures near or above 100 degrees without electricity and without air conditioning.

In addition to the heat, officials say cell phone coverage is spotty. Many residents were asked to conserve water because sewage stations had been without power for a time. And authorities cautioned people to drive carefully because tree limbs littered roads and hundreds of traffic signals were out.

Utility crews are untangling downed power lines and tree limbs, working to get the electricity turned back on for millions.

Strong winds from Friday night storms toppled massive trees onto cars and blocked roads. Officials have been asking residents not to drive until they could clear debris from the streets.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says unlike a hurricane “that gives you three days of warning” and allows state officials to line up extra personnel so they can immediately start on cleanup, Friday’s weather came up suddenly.

The storm is being described as a derecho — a straight-line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed.

Malls, movie theaters and other public places with power have been packed with people trying to escape the heat.

One woman taking refuge at a Maryland library expressed the concerns of many, saying if the power doesn’t come back on soon, she’ll have to throw out everything in her refrigerator.

Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He says there were 961,000 power outages at one point, but that number has been reduced to 650,000.

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