Cleanup underway after storm knocks down utility poles along busy Westminster road

BALTIMORE – Baltimore Boulevard remains shut down after a storm knocked down more than 30 utility poles along a main Westminster road Monday, trapping dozens in their cars.  

Maryland State Police said 33 adults and 14 children were rescued after 34 cars were trapped in fallen powerlines on Route 140. BGE worked to de-energize the powerlines so that they could evacuate people from their cars. 

“They were stuck there because the powerlines came down and they couldn’t get out of their vehicles,” Carroll County Sheriff James DeWees said. “We have remained in constant communication with those in the vehicles and they are safe.”

MORE: Strong storms knock down trees, power across Maryland

Officers provided those trapped in the cars with water.

Officials said a bus took them to Winters Mill High School. State police have the keys to the cars, and after it is safe, those cars will be reunited with the owners, officials said.

 Multiple cars were damaged by the fallen powerlines and remain at the scene.

Route 140 in Westminster will be closed and the area will be without power for an extended period of time.

“It will remain closed for tomorrow’s morning traffic and then state highway will update us, as well as BGE, as they start working at that location,” DeWees said. “That is the absolute route to get people in and out of this county to get people up north to Pennsylvania and into Westminster.”

Monday’s powerful storm brought heavy rain, damaging wind gusts and a tornado warning into Carroll County.

“One thing people will ask, was that a tornado that came through?” DeWees said. “We aren’t experts. We can’t tell you that. But it sure looks like one went through. That’s for someone else to determine.”

The sheriff said there were homes struck by trees and other damage.

However, there weren’t any reported serious injuries.

There will be an increased police presence around homes and businesses with power outages.

“I will warn you, don’t come here and do anything stupid,” DeWees said. “We will have an awful lot of police officers out and this is no place to play. This is no place to come out and act foolish.”

John Hockman and his wife narrowly missed getting struck by a fallen power pole.

“We saw it coming down, so I asked my wife to back up, and as it was coming down, two little pylons almost came down on us.”

Powerlines were wrapped around their car as they waited for crews to safely evacuate them.

Others did take a direct hit to their cars.

BGE is assessing the damage and making repairs. 

“This is catastrophic damage,” said  BGE spokesperson Nick Alexopulos. “This is damage that if you worked in electric distribution at BGE for your entire career, you may see it once.”

At one point, more than half of BGE’s Carroll County customers were left without power. More than 80 percent of the power in Carroll County is expected to be restored by 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it and I’ve been here 23 years,” Carroll County resident Jim Ross said.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore visited the damaged area of Westminster Tuesday morning to speak with first responders and repair crews.  

“I want to start by just sharing a deep level of gratitude to the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of Energy Burt from emergency management, the Maryland Joint Operations Center, everybody who took time to make sure that people were going to be safe and protected,” Moore said.  “People, who when crisis struck, sprung to action, and people who demonstrated extraordinary courage and coordination and calm.”

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