Millions of people living in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States roasted in the high temperatures over the weekend following the severe storms that pounded the eastern portion of the country. The storms which dumped rainfall brought with them high winds which downed trees and left millions of homes and businesses without power.
The electricity is not expected to be back on for several days or even a week in some areas which likens the damage to what occurs during a hurricane. Four states as well as the District of Columbia declared emergencies as more bad weather is threatening to make things worse. The lack of power is dangerous because people are left vulnerable without air conditioning in the high temperatures which soared into the high 90s and low 100s. Elderly and sick people are at highest risk as are low income families who rely on fans to cool down their homes.
Storms damaged states from Indiana to New Jersey with the bulk of the damage occurring in West Virginia, Washington, Virginia and Maryland. Six people lost their lives in Virginia including an elderly woman who was asleep in bed when a tree fell onto her home. Two youngsters were killed in New Jersey when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two others were killed in Maryland, one person in Ohio and one each in Washington DC and Kentucky.
Dozens of inmates in Illinois were moved from the Dixon prison facility to the Pontiac Correctional Center after severe thunderstorms damaged the prison. Entire power lines and trees fell in Illinois which forced work crews to work in the sweltering heat to clear power stations and other structures. Two dozen residents of an Indianapolis apartment home for the elderly in Indianapolis were moved to a Red Cross shelter when that facility lost power.
Over the weekend, many people in the Mid-Atlantic region without power spent time in air conditioned shopping malls, movie theater complexes and other places which were cool. Some decided to seek refuge with relatives and friends who had power as late night and early morning temperatures hovered in the 80s – providing little to no relief from the searing heat.
The round of summer storms which have thus far claimed thirteen lives, continues to cause problems into the new work week. With millions still without power, there is widespread concern about traffic problems as commuters take to the roads with non-working stoplights. However, federal and state workers in many states were given the option of staying at home Monday and Tuesday to lessen the chance that major automobile accidents occur. Many people were unable to get out of their neighborhoods due to entire trees and power poles being downed. There simply aren’t enough work crews available to clear the streets which has led many residents to grapple the problem themselves by cutting paths through neighborhoods with chainsaws.