D.C. Storm: Power and 911 outage investigation continues

Like a lot of people in Bethesda Ben, Gilma and little Allesandra were without electricity for nearly six days after the massive “derecho” storm hit the D.C. region.

Now that the power is back, his thoughts have turned from survival to how to avoid a repeat performance. Indeed that has become the hot topic.

A strongly worded letter from six county executives and the mayor of Baltimore is demanding the idea at least be explored.

On an “ask the utility” call-in show on our news partner WTOP radio Wednesday, several executives cited a cost of $6 billion for the District alone. At this point, though, nobody is ruling it out.

In northern Virginia, Verizon is also feeling the heat. For 48 hours starting the morning after the storm, the 911 system went blank. Steve Souder, head of public safety communications for Fairfax County, was among those called before a council of governments board meeting Wednesday.

“The public could not call 911 during a period of time there was great need,” Souder says.

Verizon's top engineer says they too were victims of power outages and damage to their systems.

“We also had mechanical failure to some of our redundant systems,” says Kyle Malady.

Mallady did not endorse burying lines but says it is time to talk about what can be done.

Back in Bethesda, where the cleanup isn't even done, that debate is raging.

“I think they should leave things alone,” says Tom Katls. “Underground is not gonna work. It’s too expensive.”

Yet Masoud Mahjoub disagrees.

“I think that everything should go underground,” Mahjoub says. “That's the only solution.”