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Wind, Rain, and Havoc — Again

Another storm causes major damage, power outages.

More than 14,000 Northern Virginia residents were thrown back into darkness late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning due to confluence of high winds and driving rain. Many had only recently emerged from Isabel's wrath.

"Calls started coming in about 4 a.m. that trees were down all over the place, taking power lines, poles and transformers with them," said Le Ha Anderson, manager, Community and Media Relations, Dominion Virginia Power. "We hope to have everyone back on line by 4 p.m. today [Wednesday] except for some in Loudoun County which may not have power until about 7 p.m."

One of the areas hit was the 8400 block of Richmond Avenue in Mount Vernon District where six large pine trees were blown over on the property of Wesley United Methodist Church. "There was no damage to the church. We were very lucky," said Pastor Teresa S. Smith.

"I had a church member call me about 10 p.m. to say the trees were down," she explained. "They were also down along the street and laying on some houses."

THERE WAS SOME speculation that the damage in that particular area could have been caused by a small tornado touching down. "It's very peculiar since all the trees in this one block area are down in the same direction. It's just one area about 100 yards long," said Lieutenant Mike Dittmer, assistant station commander, Mount Vernon District, Fairfax County Police.

"The people in the area say they heard some strange sounds just before the storm hit," he said as he toured the scene. "We have trees down in other areas but there is no distinct pattern to them. Some fell on houses and some siding has been blown off."

Anderson explained that they were made aware of a possible damaging storm by the company's meteorologist early in the evening. "We made sure all shifts were fully staffed and ready. We sent them home early to eat and rest up and then had them report back."

FAIRFAX COUNTY Fire and Rescue Department ran six calls Tuesday night related to the storm, said Captain Thomas Graling, acting battalion chief six, Mount Vernon area. "Most of it was trees down, wires down and, at some locations, damage to buildings," Graling added.

"At the Skyview Drive Apartments a tree went down on the power lines and then caught on fire. At 8345 Richmond Highway, just across from the South County Government Center, a tree went down on a house but there was no serious damage and no injuries," according to Graling.

Other areas hit were Morningside Lane and Park Terrace, Frye Road and Madge Lane, and Parkers Lane and Collingwood Road. "At the Frye Road site we had trees down on three cars," Graling said. "There was damage to a lot of buildings in the area that lost siding, shingles and had broken windows."

By late Wednesday morning, those Dominion Virginia customers still without power had been reduced to 6,000. There were reports of gusts up to 60 mph, according to Anderson. "And, there is the possibility of more damage today [Wednesday] due to continuing high winds and the ground being so saturated. But, we have all crews out and contractors on call," she said.