Severe weather devastates nation's capital; 8 dead

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The nation's capital was blanketed by downed trees and power lines Saturday after a killer storm with furious winds whipped through.

Bruised and battered, the District of Columbia was reeling from damage as skies cleared and the temperature began to soar again.

A man died in the city, electrocuted by a downed power line, police said. His wife was in critical condition.

In neighboring Virginia and Maryland, seven people were killed by fallen trees, authorities said.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency Saturday morning.

Traffic flowed through major arteries, but smaller roads were a different story. Trees were down in every ward, said DC City Administrator Allen Lew. In 19 intersections, the traffic lights were knocked out.

Saturday afternoon, more than 67,000 DC residents still had no power.

Another 1 million were in the dark in Virginia. In hard-hit Fairfax County, nearly half of all residents had no electricity.

That meant no fans. No air-conditioning. No refrigerators.

Authorities encouraged people without power to head to public recreation facilities or libraries to stay cool. But some of Washington's libraries were without power, too, Lew said.

McDonnell said 911 emergency systems experienced problems statewide, with entire grids down in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Officials are urging residents to contact their local police and fire departments if in need of help.

Much of the problem was due to the trees -- some old and huge -- that snapped in winds gusting at 80 miles per hour.

Pepco requested 1,000 crews from around the nation, but it could take them a few days to arrive, said Joseph Rigby, president of the energy company.

So far, he said, he has secured 200 crews.

But even with the manpower, Rigby urged patience. More erratic weather could hamper recovery speed.

There was a possibility of a new line of thunderstorms Saturday night, the National Weather Service said.

And then, there was the heat.

The Washington area hit 104 degrees on Friday, topping a record of 101 reported in 1934, the weather service said. And it was blistering again Saturday with the heat index topping 100 degrees.

The power outages were so great in Fairfax County that officials gave up on the idea of cooling centers. Go to malls, they told people, or other public places that were air-conditioned.

In Maryland, the state's emergency management agency reported the opening of cooling centers in Montgomery and Hartford counties.

Pepco's Rigby said some areas in and around the capital could be without power for a week.

That meant a lot of people will again have trouble sleeping at night.

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta

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