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Powerful Storms Leave Millions Without Power On East Coast

WASHINGTON – Utility crews untangled downed power lines and tree limbs Sunday, working to get the electricity turned back on for millions of people facing a second day of 100-degree temperatures without modern conveniences like air conditioning and refrigeration.

On Saturday, many people flocked to places like malls and movie theaters in the hope the lights would be on again when they returned home. Utilities were slowly making progress, but more than 3 million people still had no electricity and could only watch their thermostats climb. It could be several days before all the power outages are restored.

Strong winds from the storms late Friday toppled massive trees onto cars and blocked roads, and officials asked residents not to drive until they could clear debris from the streets. When a hurricane is lumbering their way, state officials have time to get extra personnel in place so they can immediately start on cleanup. That wasn’t the case with this storm, known as a derecho — a straight-line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed.

“Unlike a polite hurricane that gives you three days of warning, this storm gave us all the impact of a hurricane without any of the warning of a hurricane,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

With the power out, authorities also warned people to be careful when using generators and candles to help light darkened homes.

The bulk of the storm damage was in West Virginia, Washington and the capital’s Virginia and Maryland suburbs. At least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in her bed when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.

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