(AP) — Millions of people in a swath of states along the East Coast and farther west went into a third sweltering day without power, after a round of summer storms that killed more than a dozen people.
The outages left many to contend with stifling homes and spoiled food over the weekend, as temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees.
Around two million customers from North Carolina to New Jersey, and as far west as Illinois were without power on this morning.Utility officials said the power would likely be out for several more days.
Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for at least 18 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars.
The power outages had prompted concerns of traffic problems as commuters took to roads with darkened stoplights.
However, throughout northern Virginia, there was less traffic than normal in many places today, as federal workers took advantage of liberal leave that was put in place for the day.
To alleviate traffic congestion around Baltimore and Washington, federal and state officials gave many workers the option of staying home. Maryland's governor also gave state workers wide leeway for staying out of the office.
According to the State Highway Administration, more than 400 signal outages in Maryland today, including more than 330 in hard-hit Montgomery County outside the nation's capital.
There were 100 signal outages in northern Virginia late Sunday afternoon, and 65 roads were closed, although most were secondary roads.
"If you have to drive or need to drive, leave yourself a lot of extra time," Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said. "There's going to be delays."
Some drivers resorted to ingenuity to get to work. On a residential street in suburban Falls Church, Va., just outside Washington, downed trees blocked the road on either side. Neighbors used chain saws to cut a makeshift path on one side, but the other remained completely blocked by a massive oak tree.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials say they have suspended the search for a man who disappeared early Saturday while boating during the storm off Maryland.
On Sunday night in North Carolina, a 77-year-old man was killed when strong winds collapsed a Pitt County barn where he was parking an all-terrain vehicle, authorities said.
In neighboring Beaufort County, a couple was killed when a tree fell on the golf cart they were driving.
Officials said trees fell onto dozens of houses, and two hangars were destroyed at an airport in Beaufort County.
The damage was mostly blamed on straight-line winds, which are strong gusts pushed ahead of fast-moving thunderstorms like a wall of wind.
Elsewhere, at least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in her bed, when a tree slammed into her home. Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky and one in Washington.
In West Virginia, authorities said one person died early Sunday, when the all-terrain vehicle they were riding hit a tree that had fallen over a road.
For survivors, it was a challenge to stay cool over the weekend.
Power crews from as far away as Florida and Oklahoma were on their way to the mid-Atlantic region to help get the power back on and the air conditioners running again.