Irene Leaves Millions Without Power

Utility crews are scrambling to restore power after Hurricane Irene swept across the East Coast this weekend, leaving 7.4 million homes and businesses without electricity. It may be a week or more before some people get their power back.

Repair crews struggled Monday with uprooted trees, broken bridges and flood waters as they made repairs. Irene smashed power poles, ripped transmission wires and flooded electrical stations over thousands of square miles as it whipped north from South Carolina to Maine. Nearly 5 million power customers are still without power.

Northern cities, which were hit last by Irene, were still surveying the damage. Vermont experienced its worst floods in a century. Half of Connecticut Light & Power customers were in the dark.

"This is just unprecedented," the utility's spokesman, David Radanovich, said. "The largest storm we've ever faced."

As 750,000 of the utility's customers lost power over the weekend, Connecticut Light requested outside help. About 200 to 300 additional crews are headed to the state.

Public Service Electric and Gas Company, New Jersey's largest utility, said several thousand homes lost power when electrical substations were flooded. Those stations will remain offline until crews can pump out the water and dry all the equipment.

"That takes days," PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson said. "The flooding is kind of overwhelming."

The 7.4 million homes and businesses that lost power over the weekend is nearly double the outages from the last hurricane to make landfall in the United States.

Across the East Coast, power companies said most of the damage came from trees that smashed into transmission lines and other critical electrical equipment.

"Just lots of trees down," said Linda Foy with Baltimore Gas & Electric. "We've got whole trees knocked into equipment; large limbs the size of small trees hanging on power lines."

Nearly 700,000 customers in Baltimore Gas' territory lost power in the storm. Foy said most of them will be brought back sometime this week.

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