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Tens of thousands remain without power in Washington region

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Utility hopes to have power restored "to a vast majority of people by Thursday"
  • Sunday thunderstorms downed trees and power lines; two people killed
  • Some DC-area residents go online to vent frustrations at lack of power
  • One restaurant says business is up because people can't cook at home

(CNN) -- It may be several days before tens of thousands of residents in the Washington metro region have power restored, after a violent thunderstorm Sunday that downed power lines and killed two people.

Pepco, an electric company that serves customers in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, said that more than 300,000 lost power when the storm struck, but the number of people in the dark has currently dropped to 129,480.

"Our goal is to restore power to a vast majority of people by Thursday," spokesman Bob Hainey said.

"We've got more than 400 people working in the street right now," Hainey said. "This was not an ordinary storm."

Ordinary or not, some area residents, like Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, have been critical of Pepco's response to the outages.

"Day 3, no power: Pepco combines the efficiency of BP with the customer service of Comcast," Kurtz, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," tweeted Tuesday.

Pepco said it understands why its customers would be frustrated.

"People will complain. That's their right," Hainey said. "We understand that this is a major inconvenience."

But the crippling storm hasn't been frustrating for everyone in the Washington region.

In Rockville, Maryland, where a majority of Pepco customers still have no power, one restaurant has more than doubled its business because of an overflow of customers who can't cook at home.

"Yesterday, we almost ran out of food," a Panera Bread Company manager in Rockville said. "It's difficult to keep up with the amount of business."

Although she said customers appear frustrated at not having power, most have remained calm, cool and collected. "You had to be here to understand. It was like a tornado came through. It was pretty messed up," she said.

Sunday's storm was part of a slow-moving front that struck parts of the Northeast before moving south.

By Monday afternoon, the District Department of Transportation reported that 270 trees or very large limbs had fallen in the metro region.

Hainey says utility crews have been working around the clock since Sunday. They are being assisted by crews from other states, including Delaware, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"We had trees that snapped in half and ripped down power lines. ... When storms rush through those trees, power lines are going to come down," Hainey said.

CNN's Devon Sayers contributed to this report.