The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Powerless seek relief in theaters, pools, stores
BY KATIE THISDELL
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
David and Michelle Shaffer felt like they were running out of options.
“We’ve already been to the mall and the movies and been driving around,” said Michelle Shaffer.
Sunday afternoon, the Stafford County couple were cooling off in the Starbucks on Plank Road and charging their phones and tablets.
Power had been off in their Kendallwood Estates neighborhood since Friday night’s storm, and temperatures inside their home measured 90 degrees.
People in similar straits throughout the region had the same ideas for how to beat the heat, packing movie theaters, restaurants, pools and hotels.
High temperatures hit 93 at the University of Mary Washington Weather Center, but the humidity made it feel even hotter.
“It’s miserable without air conditioning, I don’t know how they used to do it,” Michelle Shaffer said. “It’s depressing.”
The oppressive heat kept the Shaffers awake Saturday night, so they drove around looking for a hotel at 1 a.m., with no luck.
Sunday afternoon, they were calling hotels from Starbucks, still hoping to find somewhere to stay in case their power remained off.
Also looking forward to cooler temperatures were moviegoers in the line that extended out the doors at the Regal Fredericksburg 15 in Central Park.
“It’s a Sunday afternoon and it’s hot,” said Charles Luker, of Huntsville, Ala. “It is what it is. We figured we might as well come here to cool off.”
He and his son, Paul, were visiting the area after biking through the Shenandoah Valley over the weekend, which was also hit hard by Friday night’s “derecho.” Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency after the violent storms left thousands without power.
While Lauren Daniel and Tom Wright had electricity restored, the air conditioning in their third-floor apartment broke. So they headed to the movies.
“We’ve just been trying to do anything not outside,” Daniel said. The couple was considering going bowling after watching the film “Ted.”
Some families stayed cool in the water at area pools. Swimmers were back after power outages caused closures on Saturday at Stafford’s two public pools and the water park at the Massad Family Branch YMCA.
Julie Mitchell and daughter Alexis Davis, 8, were at the water park early Sunday afternoon.
“It was hot and she was driving me crazy in the house with no power,” Mitchell said, looking toward Alexis swimming in the pool.
Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg opened cooling shelters Saturday for residents who needed to get out of the heat. All were closed Sunday evening; the city planned to reopen its center at Hugh Mercer Elementary today and is opening Maury Field House off Kenmore Avenue from 4-8 p.m. today for those without power who need showers.
Several people took advantage of the shelter overnight Saturday at Rodney Thompson Middle School in North Stafford, said Red Cross workers Harriet Weinstock and Kay Karstaedt.
But Bruce Baker of Hartwood was the only person at the school on Sunday afternoon.
“I thought the auditorium would be filled with people watching TV and taking it easy,” Baker said while sitting at the registration desk. The humidity had forced him out of his house as he waited for crews to restore his power.
“The windows were open [overnight] and I would have given anything to hear something,” Baker said.
A cooler sat in his kitchen, but he couldn’t find ice at any stores for food storage or to cool down drinks
“If it goes on for a week or so, ice companies could make a lot of money,” Baker said. “That’s what people want is ice.”