Post-Irene power, transport problems linger in MD, D.C.

WASHINGTON Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:26pm EDT

Sand covers the board walk after Hurricane Irene passed through in Ocean City, Maryland, August 28, 2011. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Sand covers the board walk after Hurricane Irene passed through in Ocean City, Maryland, August 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Molly Riley

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The storm formerly known as Hurricane Irene had moved far from Maryland and the nation's capital on Monday, but left tens of thousands in the area without power and dealing with transportation delays.

According to Pepco, which provides power to 778,000 customers in Washington, D.C. and next-door Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, Irene knocked out power to 220,000 customers over the weekend.

Pepco reported "significant progress" in restoring power after winds up to 65 mph brought down trees and power lines. However, some 16,000 customers in Montgomery, 44,000 in Prince George's County, and 21,000 in Washington, D.C., remained without power Monday.

"The effort has been progressing well, but we will continue with all hands on deck until power is restored to all our customers," said Thomas Graham, president of the Pepco Region.

Pepco announced its "global estimated time of restoration" Monday afternoon. Power will be restored to every customer who lost service due to Hurricane Irene by Thursday evening, though most will have power sooner.

More than 60 percent of customers had power restored in the first 24 hours, Pepco said.

The Maryland Transit Administration -- some of whose phone lines remained temporarily inoperative due to power outages -- reported major delays for its light rail Monday afternoon.

MTA's local buses were suffering minor delays, but commuter buses running into Baltimore and the District of Columbia, and MARC trains, whose service areas include parts of Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, were running on time.

The Metro train system serving Washington and nearby suburbs was also running normally.

The resort community of Ocean City reported all swimming restrictions had been lifted as of Monday afternoon, a day after the evacuated beach town was reopened to the public and residents.

"Ocean City is open for business!" Mayor Rick Meehan tweeted Sunday, "Looks like a great Labor Day Weekend ahead!"

The Federal Aviation Administration said Virginia, Maryland and Washington area airports were experiencing arrival and departure delays of 15 minutes or less.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley enacted a "liberal leave" for all non-essential state employees Monday.

The leave excepted educational units such as those under the University of Maryland and emergency essential personnel.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

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