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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Powerful Sunday Storm Cause Death and Damage

A powerful storm rolled through Prince George’s County Sunday afternoon packing high winds and rain. The storm left a path of destruction in its path and 1 death. Clean-up efforts continued into Tuesday with public works and utility companies clearing trees and lines downed by the storm. Thousands lost power and phone service and commuters struggled with roads blocked by trees and large intersections with no traffic control lights.  The National Weather Service conducted a survey of affected areas and determined the damage surveyed was consistent with very strong thunderstorm outflow staight line wind.  Widespread winds of 60 to 75 MPH were assessed with sporadic narrow focused swaths of 80 to 90 MPH winds. 

Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson opened cooling centers Monday for residents whose homes were still be without power and opened the County Emergency Operations Center to coordinate relief efforts.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, approximately 65,000 county households were without power as the result of a thunderstorm that swept through Prince George’s County about 3:30 pm. Power service has been slowly returning to normal through Tuesday.

A 44-year-old College Park mother of two was killed and her mother-in-law was seriously injured in a freak and tragic crash when a tree fell onto their minivan about 3:30 pm on Sunday in the 10100 block of Rhode Island Avenue in College Park. The Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation received reports of 70 fallen trees on county streets. Crews were dispatched to clear the roadways.

The Seven Springs Apartment Complex in College Park and the Emperian Village Apartment Complex in Greenbelt each had building damaged with high winds. A total of 16 building and nearly 200 apartment units, between the two complexes, were forced to evacuate due to damage to roofs from high winds and falling trees.

Firefighters and Medics responded to 723 calls for service on Sunday and 565 calls for service on Monday. An average day would generate 350 calls for service.

Johnson said he decided to open additional cooling stations in the county to provide relief from the expected 90 degree temperatures predicted for Monday.

“The thunderstorm impacted residents in every part of Prince George’s County,” Johnson said. “We wanted to give our residents an opportunity to get out of the heat until their power is restored.”

“Until power is restored, I ask everyone to check on their neighbors to be sure they are safe,” Johnson said.

Johnson said six fire stations and all community and recreation centers will be open as cooling centers on Monday. He also said that residents are also urged to get out of the heat by using the public libraries throughout the county. All community and recreation centers will be opened from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Fire stations used as cooling centers were open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The stations included:

• Station 810, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department No. 1, Inc. 7411 Cherry Lane, Laurel.

• Station 855, Bunker Hill Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, Inc. 3716 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood.

• Station 818, The Glenn Dale Fire Association, Inc., 11900 Glenn Dale Boulevard, Glenn Dale.

• Station 820, Marlboro Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., 14815 Pratt Street, Upper Marlboro.

• Station 829, Silver Hill Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, 3900 Old Silver Hill Road, Silver Hill.

• Station 832, Allentown Road Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., 8709 Allentown Road, Fort Washington.

Pet Alerts Family to Fire with a Back-Up Alert from Smoke Alarm

An Upper Marlboro family benefited from two early indicators of danger in their home early Monday morning. Just before 4:00 am, Monday, July 26, 2010, an apparent electrical malfunction ignited a fire in the basement of a home in the 17800 block of Central Avenue.

As the fire slowly spread, smoke started to fill the 1-story single family home. The first indication of danger came from Enzo, an Olde English Bulldog. The family pet alerted the sleeping family just moments before a smoke alarm activated. The two early warning signs of dangers allowed the family to escape the home without injury. Firefighters from Bowie and the Upper Marlboro area and surrounding communities, including units from Anne Arundel County, responded and arrived to find a fire in the basement with heavy smoke billowing from the structure. Thirty firefighters had the fire knocked down in about 15 minutes after arrival. One firefighter was treated and released from an area hospital for a minor injury to his hand. Fire loss was estimated at $5,000.

While the few extra moments of the pet alert are certainly precious seconds when it comes to escaping your home safely; the standard of having a working smoke alarm on every level of your home in addition to a planned and practiced home escape plan is the best proven method of surviving a home fire. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed; a smoke alarm should be installed in your bedroom as well. Your home escape plan should include 2 ways out of every room and a designated meeting place outside the house.

Citizens and residents are reminded to have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, test the alarm monthly and replace the battery at least once-a-year. The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department will install a smoke alarm in your home; free of charge. Citizens and residents can contact our Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE to make arrangements.


Prince George's County Public Safety Communications officials have been in contact with representatives from Verizon about the on-going issue of phone service outage within communities in the Northern section of the County. 

On Monday, July 26, 2010, Verizon was experiencing a central office-based wire-line telephone outage in the Greenbelt, Berwyn, College Park area as a result of the storms on Sunday. Wireless phone service in the area is not affected. Verizon has been working to restore service and has made some progress.

The phone outage does affect access to 911 service by wired telephone. Any resident that needs to report an emergency can do so by cellular phone or at the closest fire station. We are asking that residents not call 911 to test their service. On Monday the specific exchanges affected by the outage were:

In the 240 area code


In the 301 area code

The most recent update from Verizon was received on Monday evening at about 11:00 pm.  Verizon reported that they are still trying to get equipment in to fix the existing problems.