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BY: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON – Millions of people in a swath of states along the East Coast and farther west went into a third sweltering day without power Monday after a round of summer storms that killed more than a dozen people.
The outages left many to contend with stifling homes and spoiled food over the weekend as temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees.
Around 2 million customers from North Carolina to New Jersey and as far west as Illinois were without power Monday morning. And utility officials said the power would likely be out for several more days. Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for at least 18 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars.
The power outages had prompted concerns of traffic problems as commuters took to roads with darkened stoplights. But throughout northern Virginia, there was less traffic than normal in many places Monday as federal workers took advantage of liberal leave that was put in place for the day.
To alleviate traffic congestion around Baltimore and Washington, federal and state officials gave many workers the option of staying home Monday. Maryland’s governor also gave state workers wide leeway for staying out of the office.
“It was less traffic,” said D.C. resident Rob Lavender, who commuted to Arlington County from the district. “It’s more hectic on a regular day.”
There were more than 400 signal outages in Maryland on Monday, including more than 330 in hard-hit Montgomery County outside the nation’s capital, according to the State Highway Administration. There were 100 signal outages in northern Virginia late Sunday afternoon, and 65 roads were closed, although most were secondary roads.
“If you have to drive or need to drive, leave yourself a lot of extra time,” Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said. “There’s going to be delays.”
Some drivers resorted to ingenuity to get to work. On a residential street in suburban Falls Church, Va., just outside Washington, downed trees blocked the road on either side. Enterprising neighbors used chain saws to cut a makeshift path on one side, but the other remained completely blocked by a massive oak tree.
“They kind of forgot about us out here,” resident Eric Nesson said.
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