Washington, July 2: Washington was Monday slowly limping back to normal even as hundreds of thousands of residents across central and eastern United States continued to battle power failures caused by savage weekend storms.
At least 16 people were killed from the series of storms that knocked out power to millions over the weekend amid record-breaking heat that has baked areas from Missouri to New York to Georgia, according to CNN.
Even as crews worked round the clock to restore power, the weatherman offered no respite from the blistering heat that is expected to smother areas from Missouri to South Carolina Monday, with at least 16 states under heat advisories or warnings.
“Hot and hotter will continue to be the story from the Plains to the Atlantic Coast the next few days,” the National Weather Service said Monday.
“The widespread excessive heat warnings and heat advisories have certainly decreased in coverage, but temperatures will remain well above average across a large portion of the US.”
Hundreds of thousands of people from Indiana through Maryland were still without electricity even as the number of storm-related power breakdowns came down from a peak of about four million.
Meanwhile, in Washington metropolitan area with nearly a half-million households still without power and hundreds of traffic lights still dark, non-emergency employees of federal agencies have been given the option to take casual leave or work remotely Monday.
Power companies are calling in reinforcements from as far away as Missouri, Oklahoma and Canada, and the National Guard is pitching in to help with storm cleanup, according to Washington Post.
By Monday morning, about 492,000 Washington area households and businesses – nearly one in four of the region’s electric customers – were still without power, the Post said citing data on utility web sites.
Many without power snapped up free bags of ice, others jumped into swimming pools opened as cooling centres. Yet others went to the movies or simply drove around in air-conditioned cars even as some petrol pumps that reopened Sunday charged a higher price.
And even as the temperature at Dulles International Airport Sunday reached a record for the day of 96 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record of 94 F set in 1968, officials said it might be a week before all power is restored.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)