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Posted at 8:27 PM ET, 08/13/2010

When it rains, storm stories flow

By editors

By Christine C. Lawrence,

Regarding the Aug. 13 Metro article “Back-to-back blows smack region around”:

At 7:15 a.m. Thursday, I was standing in line with my family and friends visiting from Seattle, waiting to be checked in for a tour of the White House. We all noticed the sky turning dark. We could tell a storm was approaching because the huge trees overhead began to sway and bend. There was not a word from the Secret Service agents checking in the visitors until one suddenly began to draw a fence in front of us and yelled “back, back.” I said, “Back, back where?” All he said was, “We are closing down the tours.”

We ran through the street in the downpour, not knowing where to go. We eventually found the White House Visitors Center and asked the Park Service employee there why there were no directions given as to where to go when the storm hit. She said, “We are not used to having morning storms.” She added that the Secret Service agents’ job is to protect the White House, so they can shut down the tours whenever they want.

We did have our White House tour after getting back in line again. As we were shivering in our rain-drenched clothes, the Secret Service agent checking us in said to me brightly, “How is your day?” I said, “Not so good. We were here at 7:30 a.m. and nearly drowned when they shut down the tour.” This, which I am not making up, was his reply:

“Well, most people have the sense to get out of the rain.”

The whole experience left our friends with a bad impression of Washington. What could have been an orderly and well-handled response to a freak storm turned out to be a chaotic and unpleasant experience.

By Nancy O’Neill,

Regarding the Aug. 13 letter “Hey, Pepco! Trees are not the problem”:

Several years ago, Baltimore Gas and Electric, my electricity provider in Bowie, kept saying that we had too many trees and they either needed to be removed or trimmed. The company began a program of tree cutting and trimming, and it worked. You just can’t have all these beautiful trees blowing and swaying in the wind and have a steady supply of electricity.

We lost power in the last two storms in late July and early August, but only because lightning struck a transformer. We did not lose power during Thursday’s storm or during the blizzards of the past winter.

Folks, you are going to have to let Pepco trim and remove some of those trees. Putting wires underground would be ideal, but it would take many years and much money. I would rather have power than to be in the dark looking out at the beautiful trees or have a tree or a tree limb on my house.

By editors  | August 13, 2010; 8:27 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Maryland, Prince George's County, Prince William County, Tysons Corner, Virginia, environment, weather  
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