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Sandy Exits to a Sigh of Relief in Rockville

Mayor Marcuccio: 'We’ve been one of the very, very fortunate communities.'

As Tuesday evening set in and Sandy moved out of Maryland, Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio reflected on the relatively limited number of power outages around the city and came to a conclusion.

“Pepco has certainly improved,” she said. 

The number of outages reported by Pepco for ZIP codes in the city limits did not appear to exceed 2,000 during periodic updates by Patch throughout Sandy.

Marcuccio said that the one outage number she saw during the storm showed about 1,000 outages in the 20850 ZIP code, which includes Rockville Town Center and much of the city.

“Rockville has fared very well in terms of outages,” said Marylou Berg, a city spokeswoman. 

Fears that trees damaged during the June 29 "derecho" storm would come down proved unfounded, she said.

“The call volume and the damage has been low to moderate,” Berg said as the city began getting back to normal Tuesday afternoon. “We were expecting the worst and we’re just not seeing it.”

City Hall lost power and was on a backup generator for a time, Berg said.

East Rockville residents reported hearing a loud “boom” Monday night.

Marcuccio, who lives in East Rockville, said she heard the sound of an explosion. Homes on Horners Lane went dark for 10 to 20 seconds before power came back on, she said.

Marcuccio said she heard other public officials on conference calls with Pepco during the storm ask about similar experiences. She said she believes that it was an electrical transformer exploding before power was rerouted on the grid. It sounded like it came from near First Street and Baltimore Road, she said.

Elsewhere during the storm, traffic signals temporarily went dark and were reset to flashing yellow before returning to regular operation by Tuesday afternoon, Marcuccio said.

No roads were closed, though some had lane reductions due to debris in the roadway, according to a report to city officials by the city’s Department of Public Works at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Marcuccio said.

There were some minor leaks in the roofs at some city facilities—something that is typical during strong storms, Marcuccio said.

The city had 14 trees down, including 10 where Pepco was called due to downed wires, according to the report, Marcuccio said. One of the downed trees was at Twinbrook Parkway and Rockville Pike near the city’s southern border.

Trees were more of a problem at Rockville’s water treatment plant, located along the Potomac River in Potomac. The access road to the plant is in a densely wooded area and downed trees made the road impassible for a short time. The plant operated for a short time on a generator and was never offline, Marcuccio said.

A drive through the city on Tuesday afternoon revealed quiet streets littered with leaves and small debris from trees, but little apparent damage to homes. Small streams of water flowed through street gutters, cutting through leaf piles that collected near storm drains.

Rockville “slid” trash and recycling collection by two days through the remainder of the week. The city planned to have extra crews out on Monday to pick up storm debris.

“We assume folks really won’t get a chance to clean up their yards until this weekend,” Berg said.

Rockville residents began to emerge from their homes Tuesday afternoon and survey the scene on city streets.

Some saw the storm as a chance for family togetherness.

“I was kind of excited about it,” said Steven Bevins, 20.

Family that lives nearby and was visiting Monday evening hunkered down in Bevins’ apartment at The Fields of Rockville near Richard Montgomery High School, he said.

The apartments lost power for about an hour around 2 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

A tree fell on a car near the apartment complex, Bevins said. The driver, who was not in the car at the time, was able to back out from under the tree and drive away.

“We’ve been one of the very, very fortunate communities,” Marcuccio said. Video from further north along the New Jersey and New York coast was “absolutely frightening,” she said.

Marcuccio said city officials could consider how to aid towns seriously impacted by Sandy.

“My heart goes out to those folks,” she said. “They’re really going to be in trouble. It’s unbelievable.”

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