Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Deadly heat, outages threaten storm victims

3M in East at risk; crews scramble to help

FRANCONIA, Va. -- A day after seeking refuge at shopping malls and movie theaters, hoping the lights would be back on when they returned, 3 million residents faced a grim reality Sunday: stifling homes, spoiled food, and a looming commute filled with knocked-out stoplights.

Two days after storms tore across the eastern United States, power outages forced people to get creative to stay cool in dangerously hot weather. Temperatures were forecast to top 100 degrees in many storm-stricken areas, and utility officials said the power is likely to be out for several more days.

"If we don't get power tonight, we'll have to throw everything away," Susan Fritz, a mother of three, said of her refrigerator and freezer. She went to a library in Bethesda, Md., so her son could do school work. She charged her phone and iPad at her gym.

The storm was blamed for 14 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars. Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials suspended the search for a man who vanished Saturday while boating during the storm off Maryland.

Most of the damage was in West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the district's Virginia and Maryland suburbs. At least six of the deaths were in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep when a tree slammed into her home. Two cousins camping in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky, and one in the District of Columbia.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said storms late Saturday knocked out power in more regions and caused further damage.

RELATED ARTICLE: Thousands lack power after storm

"There is a significant risk of additional storms that could lead to additional outages, so there is a possibility that the situation could deteriorate in the coming days," he said. "This is going to be a multiday recovery event with dangerously high heat, so everyone needs to remain vigilant."

From Atlanta to Richmond, temperatures were expected to hit triple digits. Residents were urged to check on elderly relatives and neighbors. It was tough to find a pump at gas stations that had power; lines of cars snaked around fast-food drive-throughs.

Much of the debris hindered transportation. Mr. McDonnell said 25 primary roads and 217 smaller roads remained closed. He said officials were exploring strategies to ease traffic during rush hours today, including staggered work hours.

"Unlike a polite hurricane that gives you three days of warning, this storm gave us all the impact of a hurricane without any of the warning," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Crews from Florida and Oklahoma were headed to the mid-Atlantic region to help get the power back on and air conditioners running again. Even if people have generators, the devices often don't have enough power to operate an air conditioner.

Forecasters warned that the high temperatures posed risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The National Weather Service advised drinking lots of fluids and staying in air-conditioned rooms away from direct sunlight.

Some cities gave free admission to swimming pools.

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