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Summer Storm A downed tree takes out two vehicles in Upper Deerfield, N.J. on Saturday.
A downed tree takes out two vehicles in Upper Deerfield, N.J. on Saturday.
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Published: Saturday, 6/30/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Storms kill at least 13 in eastern U.S.

Ohioan among the dead

BLADE NEWS SERVICES

WASHINGTON — Millions of people across the mid-Atlantic region sweltered Saturday in the aftermath of violent storms that pummeled the eastern United States with high winds and downed trees, killing at least 13 people and leaving 3 million without power during a heat wave.

Utility officials said the outages won't be repaired for several days to a week, likening the damage to that from a serious hurricane.

Emergencies were declared in Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard.

"We consider this to be an extremely serious situation in Ohio," Mr. Kasich said, adding that President Obama indicated willingness to provide help, and that the head of FEMA called Mr. Kasich soon after their discussion.

The White House said a Federal Emergency Management Agency official was being deployed to Columbus.

Mr. Kasich said he hopes for federal help in getting ice, water, fuel, and generators.

He said National Guard troops will be helping the elderly and others most in need, beginning in Cincinnati and central Ohio urban areas Sunday and expanding as needed.

"Together, we'll get through this," Mr. Kasich said, urging Ohioans to check on neighbors and "look out for those who they know might need some extra help."

One woman was killed Friday in eastern Ohio's Muskingum County, and there were reports of other injuries and damage across the state.

In West Virginia, 232 Amtrak passengers were stranded Friday night on a train from New York to Chicago that was blocked on both sides by trees that fell on the tracks. The passengers spent about 20 hours at a rural station before buses picked them up. The Amtrak train is not the one that passes through Toledo.

The stranded passengers were picked up by buses at a station near rural Prince, W.Va., Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said. They were able to leave the train cars because they were parked at the station, and the train bound from New York to Chicago also had lights, air conditioning, and food.

Mr. Kulm wasn't aware of any injuries or health problems.

The buses will travel to the train stations along the original route, dropping off passengers along the way.

In Illinois, storm damage prompted the transfer of dozens of maximum-security, mentally ill prisoners from one prison to another.

The outages were especially dangerous because they left the region without air conditioning in an oppressive heat.

Temperatures soared to highs in the mid-90s in Baltimore and Washington, where it had hit 104 on Friday.

The storm did damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although the bulk of it was in West Virginia, Washington, and suburban Virginia and Maryland.

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

Utility officials said it could take at least several days to restore power to all customers because of the sheer magnitude of the outages and the destruction.

Officials with the National Weather Service described the storm as a long line of ferocious thunderstorms that produced a large swath of damaging winds.

The storm moved from the Ohio Valley east to the mid-Atlantic states at a speed of 60 mph, producing winds in some places of up to 90 mph, said Daniel Porter, a meteorologist with the service.

The continuing excessive heat in the region and the threat of additional storms complicated the recovery effort, he said.

The National Weather Service issued a heat warning Saturday for Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

In addition to the wind, heavy rains combined with hail in some places, causing further damage.

Even as utility workers scrambled to get the power back on, emergency workers fanned out in cities and towns across the East Coast, assisting those most vulnerable to the heat — the elderly and the young. They set up cooling centers and directed people to drink plenty of water.

In related developments:

Netflix, Instagram, and Pinterest used Facebook and Twitter to update subscribers after violent storms across the eastern U.S. caused server outages for hours. Netflix and Pinterest restored service Saturday afternoon.

The third round of the AT&T National golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., was closed to spectators and volunteers for safety reasons after a powerful wind storm left large trees upended across the golf course.



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