CHRISTINE MILLER FORD
KEARNEYSVILLE – Anyone without power in need of a place to cool off can come to a free cooling station set up at the Jefferson County Health Department at 1948 Wiltshire Road in Kearneysville, officials say.
“We’ll be set up all week,” said Jennifer Maggio of the Jefferson County Homeland Security & Emergency Management.
The cooling station will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Friday – including on the Fourth of July holiday.
Those with questions about the service or who need transportation to the health department may call 304-728-8416.
Another cooling station has been set up at St. Andrews Mountain Community Center, the stone building on the corner of W.Va. 9 and Mission Road in Harpers Ferry. For more information contact John Maxey at 304-707-1954.
Other options for locals struggling with the heat:
• Parents can bring their children to the gym at Sam Michael’s Park at 1102 Job Corps Road in Shenandoah Junction. Showers also will be available, according to Maggio.
• Harpers Ferry/Bolivar leaders are hosting a cooling shelter at Camp Hill United Methodist Church at 601 E. Washington St.
in Harpers Ferry.
• In downtown Charles Town, Community Ministries is providing emergency shelter for the homeless only
at 238 W. Washington St.
Businesses are stepping in to help out, too. Vivo Day Spa in Harpers Ferry donated money to buy dozens of Happy Meals for young people whose families lacked power. River Riders at 408 Alstads Hill Road in Harpers Ferry is planning a free cookout for Jefferson County residents on Tuesday evening. Anyone interested is asked to RSVP to Liz Guidroz at 304-535-2663.
Meanwhile, crews with Potomac Edison continue to work 16-hour shifts to restore power to thousands of Eastern Panhandle homes left without power after the massive, unusual storm that hit the mid-Atlantic late Friday.
“We’re grateful for our customers’ patience,” said Scott Surgeoner, a FirstEnergy spokesman. “Our crews will go on working 24 hours a day until every last customer has power.”
The power outage continues amid a heatwave that began Friday. Many in the Panhandle are enduring the high temperatures and humidity without the luxuries of air conditioning, fans or fridges to keep food and drinks cool.
Across much of Jefferson County, Friday night’s powerful storm uprooted trees, downed power lines, blew out office windows and roofs, crushed parked cars and trucks, dented buildings and created other havoc.
Few in the Panhandle could recall ever going so long without power.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley described the storm as “historic” and he, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin all declared states of emergency.
For many restaurants and hotels, the storm aftermath is proving a boon to business. By Sunday, many locals had checked into the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown – which offered discount rates – and other local hotels for a respite from the heat. They also crowded into restaurants for hot food, cool drinks, the chance to cool off and to power up cell phones and laptops.
The widespread, straight-line windstorm – officially called a derecho, from the Spanish word for “straight” – left devastation from parts of Indiana and Ohio through Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. The storm was blamed for a number of deaths, including an elderly Maryland woman who was killed in her bed when a tree fell on her home.
With today’s high above 90 degrees, thunderstorms are again in the forecast.