Baltimore, MD - Sweltering Orthodox Baltimoreans Face Days Without Power
Baltimore, MD - Baltimore residents are bracing for another grueling day in the aftermath of Friday night’s devastating storm, as over 300,000 homes remain without power and temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees this afternoon.
While Baltimore Gas and Electric has restored power to over 270,000 customers, residents are warned that service may not be restored until the end of the week, due to the magnitude of the powerful but rare storm, known as a derecho, that inflicted catastrophic damage to power grids in Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. A state of emergency has been declared in all four states.
Compounding the problem for Baltimore’s Jewish residents is Baltimore Gas and Electric’s system that prioritizes repair calls by the order in which they are received, a policy that has been devastating for Orthodox Jewish residents who were unable to call the utility company over Shabbos to notify them of their outages.
“Not a single Jewish family in our area has had their power restored as of yet,” Isaiah Cox of Shomrim told VIN News. “The only truck that anyone saw in the entire area yesterday came to restore the power of one influential city official who lives in the area. He got his power restored. No one else did. There are downed trees everywhere, blocking roads, on people’s houses and in some cases, in people’s houses.”
“Shomrim is working with Hatzalah and Chaveirim,” said Nathan Willner, the attorney for Shomrim. “Shomrim has been out checking up on residents, particularly the elderly. It is pretty intimidating to have this many houses without power. At night, it is total blackness and you realize how much we rely on our electricity.”
According to Cox, at least half of the area is without electricity.
“We are very concerned about looters, although we aren’t aware of any looting currently going on,” reported Cox. “Everyone has their windows open, no one has an alarm system, most people don’t even have working phones and there is no police response, all of which is a recipe for trouble in this area. Because they don’t expect power back for several days people are contemplating moving out, but are worried what that their houses might be broken into if they leave.”
Shomrim is cautioning all residents who remain without power to keep their windows open due to the oppressive heat that is expected today.
“Our guess is that in this heat, there is no security risk in keeping your windows open during the day,” advised Cox. “Keeping your windows closed in this heat creates a far more dangerous situation.”
Shomrim is requesting that anyone with working cell phone service who knows a Baltimore resident who has lost power call Baltimore Gas and Electric to report the power outage on their behalf at 877-778-2222. They also expressed their appreciation to Lakewood Shomrim who offered to send manpower to the area in order to deal with the current situation.
In nearby Silver Spring, seven cars were crushed by a tree that fell in the parking lot of the South East Hebrew Orthodox Congregation.
“The sky was lit up constantly from the lightning,” said Silver Spring resident Zev Teichman. “There wasn’t much thunder, just non-stop lightning and ferocious winds. This was totally unexpected. The weather forecast called for just a chance of thunderstorms.”
While some in Silver Spring remain without power, residents of the White Oak area had their power restored yesterday afternoon.
“The storm was pretty horrific,” said Sheldon Meth. “We were out for about sixteen hours. Our lights went out at about 10:45 PM and we had no power until 3:30.”
Thirteen known fatalities have been reported in the wake of Friday’s storm.
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