Eastern U.S. storms kill 13, cut power to millions

By Jessica Gresko

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, June 30 2012 8:32 p.m. MDT

More than 20 elderly residents at an apartment home in Indianapolis were displaced when the facility lost power due to a downed tree. Most were bused to a Red Cross facility to spend the night, and others who depend on oxygen assistance were given other accommodations, the fire department said.

Others sought refuge in shopping malls, movie theaters and other places where the air conditioning would be turned to "high."

In Richmond, Va., Tracey Phalen relaxed with her teenage son under the shade of a coffee-house umbrella rather than suffer through the stifling heat of her house, which lost power.

"We'll probably go to a movie theater at the top of the day," she said.

Phalen said Hurricane Irene left her home dark for six days last summer, "and this is reminiscent of that," she said.

Others scheduled impromptu "staycations" or took shelter with friends and relatives.

Robert Clements, 28, said he showered by flashlight on Friday night after power went out at his home in Fairfax, Va. The apartment complex where he lives told his fiancee that power wouldn't be back on for at least two days, and she booked a hotel on Saturday.

Clements' fiancee, 27-year-old Ann Marie Tropiano, said she tried to go to the pool, but it was closed because there was no electricity so the pumps weren't working. She figured the electricity would eventually come back on, but she awoke to find her thermostat reading 81 degrees and slowly climbing. Closing the blinds and curtains didn't help.

"It feels like an oven," she said.

At the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md., trees cracked at their trunks crashed onto the 14th hole and onto ropes that had lined the fairways. The third round of play was suspended for several hours Saturday and was closed to volunteers and spectators. Mark Russell, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competition, couldn't remember another time that a tour event was closed to fans.

"It's too dangerous out here," Russell said. "There's a lot of huge limbs. There's a lot of debris. It's like a tornado came through here. It's just not safe."

The outages disrupted service for many subscribers to Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest when the storm cut power to some of Amazon Inc.'s operations. The video and photo sharing services took to Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers on the outages. Netflix and Pinterest had restored service by Saturday afternoon.

The storm that whipped through the region Friday night was called a derecho (duh-RAY'-choh) , a straight line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed. It can produce tornado-like damage. The storm, which can pack wind gusts of up to 90 mph, began in the Midwest, passed over the Appalachian Mountains and then drew new strength from a high pressure system as it hit the southeastern U.S., said Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"It's one of those storms," Jackson said. "It just plows through."

Associated Press writers Vicki Smith in Morgantown, W.Va., Larry O'Dell in Richmond, Va., Pam Ramsey in Charleston, W.Va., Norman Gomlak in Atlanta, Jeffrey McMurray in Chicago, Doug Ferguson in Bethesda, Md., and Rebecca Miller in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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