The phone at AAA Emergency Ice on Belair Road has been ringing nonstop since Friday's "super derecho" storm knocking out power to residents and businesses—businesses that include the Overlea-area icehouse.
"We just got power back on about an hour ago," said AAA Emergency Ice president John McPherson on Monday afternoon. The plant, which normally is able to produce 30 tons of ice per day, had been at zero production since they lost power and then lost their generators on Friday.
"I've lost about $100,000 in ice and about $3,000 in ice sculptures that were on display," McPherson said.
That hasn't, however, hampered AAA's ability to serve their customers. McPherson, a third-generation ice man, trucked in 40-pound bags of ice on one-ton pallets from Hanover, PA through the weekend. Just today, he said, he brought in 60 one-ton pallets.
On Monday afternoon, cars were parked along Everall Avenue and a line of people stretched along the loading dock, waiting to purchase 40-pound bags of ice and 10-pound bags of dry ice to keep their food fresh. McPherson said that the icehouse had been open since 4 a.m.
Chris Ackerman, who lives on nearby Ferndale Avenue, lost power during Friday's storm around 11 p.m. and doesn't anticipate having electricity until the end of the week.
"I've been up here four or five times," Ackerman said. "This is the neighborhood icehouse, and they've got ice."
McPherson said repeat customers following storms are common—and he's seen quite a few storms. He's been working at AAA since hurricane Agnes tore through the Baltimore area back in 1972.
"When the power goes out like this, you see the same people over and over," McPherson said. "We've probably sold about 8,000 pounds of dry ice and probably something like 10 tons of cracked ice today, just to throw some figures out there."
In addition to walk-in customers, McPherson said that AAA has about 600 commercial customers at gas stations, convenience stores, mini marts, hotels and restaurants.
"We're trying to keep up with it," McPherson said. "You've got the Fourth of July holiday coming up, this storm and our ice production being down. When you've got 600 customers calling, eight trucks to get them ice and 12 hours to do it, it's really hard."
"You can't help and satisfy everyone, so we try to prioritize—run out to the northeast, the northwest ... and I do all the routing."
McPherson said though that he believes the worst is over.
"Yesterday we had huge lines, people passing out in the parking lot ... paramedics were here. We had to bring them in to the air conditioning and give them water, Gatorade," he said.