Trees uprooted, roofs destroyed, power lines down — severe storms and rising temperatures have caused serious damage in Ohio and along the East Coast. Electric companies have been working hard to get power up and running. Atlantic City Electric spokesman Matt Likovich said, “We have been deploying line workers, tree crews, field support personnel around the clock to restore service as quickly and as safely as possible.”
But more than three million Americans are still without power, and rural areas have been hit especially hard. Allison Zoromski is a PhD student at Ohio University in Athens. She lost power four days ago, and has been relying on her university's recently restored power, as well as her friends' homes for showers and air conditioning.
The rural setting of her community has made it especially difficult for people to make it through the power outages. Reliance on personal vehicles makes it hard to access cooling centers, basic supplies, and even clean water. "It was really difficult to just get gas," Zoromski says. "People here rely on gas for their cars because it's more rural and there's not a lot of public transportation."
Cities are also struggling to meet their inhabitants' needs in the aftermath of violent storms along the East Coast. For Scott Silverthorne, newly elected mayor of Fairfax City, Virginia, it has been a difficult first few months in office. He estimates that around 1,000 people are still without power in his community, which is down from 11,000 on Saturday morning. Road crews from as far away as Canada and South Carolina are working to restore power. The city has also opened cooling centers in schools and public buildings for people to use. "We're asking neighbors to be diligent and check on their own neighbors as best they can," the mayor says.
Virginia governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to the largest non-hurricane power outage in state history. The declaration has helped to accelerate the recovery process for city officials like Silverthorne by allowing them to hire outside contractors directly. The mayor says that he had pressed for upgrades to the power grid as a city councilman, but costs continue to be a barrier for improvement. "[An upgrade] is long overdue," Silverthorne says. "It's been a very, very slow process."