PARKERSBURG - Residents attempted to keep cool as best they could on Sunday in the aftermath of a storm that has left most of the region without electricity.
The Grand Central Mall in Vienna was open Sunday with many people just walking around to stay out of the heat while a cooling station was set up by the Lynn Street Church of Christ in Parkersburg.
"We are getting cooled off,'' said Gladys Chalden of 37th Street in Vienna. "We still don't have any electricity.''
The reopened Grand Central Mall was one of locations area residents traveled to Sunday in order to cool off from the summer heat. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
The mall was Chalden and her family's best option to get in out of the heat.
"We are afraid to go too far without any gas,'' Chalden said.
The lines for gas stations are so long, many people are not sure they can make it through and get gasoline in a timely manner. Some people have reported having to wait a couple of hours just to get gas while some have waited only to have the station run out. Others have been staying close to home and trying to conserve gas.
"We decided just to come to the mall where we could just park, walk around inside and cool off,'' Chalden said.
Laura Summers, who was at the Grand Central Mall Sunday, said she waited three hours to get gas Saturday, having gone to Mineral Wells where the gas station ran out of gas, went to another nearby but it did not have any power and into south Parkersburg before finally being able to get some gas at a Speedway.
"It was crazy,'' she said.
After all that running around she was taking it easy Sunday at the mall to cool off.
Chris Bibbee, who was with Summers, said there were still a lot of areas without power, including a lot of the North End of Parkersburg and a number of sections in south Parkersburg where fallen trees are still laying across power lines.
"We were here (at the mall) to find something to do,'' he said. "I heard the the cinema was open (Saturday) night.
"I was like we should go there and watch a movie. It is cool there.''
On Saturday, a cooling station was set up by the Lynn Street Church of Christ by the American Red Cross with people streaming in from the surrounding neighborhoods and from around the area.
"We have been really busy (Sunday), said Clemencia McCready of the American Red Cross who was helping to run the station. "We probably had around 30 people who have come in and out.
"Some people are just really tired and just wanted to lay down, so we have cots ready for them.''
The troubles are all the same, people's power is still off and they don't have access to any ice and had no refrigeration available.
"Many people's houses are extremely hot,'' McCready said. "They can come here and cool down even though we don't have any electricity.''
Lynn Street did not have power and Red Cross officials were using a generator to keep the fan blowing in one room where they are keeping the lights turned off.
The cooling station opened Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. and have been remaining open until about 6 p.m. or so, said Ken Holbert of the American Red Cross.
We have been opening at 10 a.m. and staying open until about 6 p.m.
"Right now, it is depending on the need,'' Holbert said.
Many people have offered help to the cooling station from around the neighborhood, McCready said.
"This community has been wonderful,'' she said.
The Red Cross is planning on keeping the station open as long as there is a need.
"If there is a need tomorrow, we will be here tomorrow,'' McCready said. "We are just doing it one day at a time.''
For the people at the cooling station, it has been a tremendous help at a time when they really needed something.
"We came here to get help,'' said Margie Durnell of Market Manor. "We came here just to get away.
"It is hot in our apartments (on the fifth and eighth floors).''
The elevators are not working, and people have to walk up and down several flights of stairs, said one woman who did not wish to be identified.
"Some people just can't do that,'' she said. "This is my first time to do something like this.
"I really like it. It is all right.''
Holbert said word is slowing getting out as some people don't have access to media.
"It has been mostly by word-of-mouth,'' he said. "We are going day-by-day.
"We will remain here until the power is restored.''