OAKLAND, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O'Malley focused resources Thursday on restoring electricity to Garrett County and checking on snowbound residents suffering their fourth day without power after a blizzard spawned by Superstorm Sandy buried western Maryland's mountains under more than two feet of snow.
About 13,300 homes and businesses, comprising nearly 60 percent of the county's electricity customers, lacked power Thursday evening, Potomac Edison said. Linesmen may not get the power fully restored until next week, the company said.
O'Malley told local elected officials at a meeting near Oakland that the Maryland Emergency Management Agency had set up temporary headquarters in the county to manage the response to the area's most devastating storm in 38 years.
"My whole state's now Garrett County," he said. "We will do whatever it takes to get you all back up on your feet."
Also Thursday, Garrett County officials reported another storm-related death in Maryland.
County emergency management chief Brad Frantz said that a man in his 80s from the Oakland area died of natural causes Monday while shoveling snow. Maryland authorities have said three other deaths in the state were storm-related.
Floodwaters have receded and repairs have begun in other parts of the state damaged by the ferocious storm but much of Garrett County, 160 miles west of Baltimore, remained frozen by tree-blocked roads and the lack of power.
Larry Lewis, general roads foreman at the county garage in the tiny town of Accident, said his crews hadn't been able to clear fallen trees from many roads because downed power lines also were on the highway.
The crews had to get safety clearance from Potomac Edison before the trees could be moved. But Potomac Edison said it couldn't get to some of its downed lines until the roads were cleared. Officials moved to resolve that chicken-or-egg dilemma Thursday by sending linesmen out with the road crews.
"That'll help us get out and about, and it just makes things a lot more accessible for us," Potomac Edison spokesman Todd Meyers said.
He said low clouds, snow showers and strong winds prevented the company from surveying the line damage by helicopter Thursday.
Garrett County road workers got help Thursday from the National Guard, the State Highway Administration, neighboring Allegany County and about 35 volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Services, based in Akron, Pa.
Power was restored by Thursday to parts of Oakland, the county seat, and McHenry, the commercial center of the Deep Creek Lake resort area.
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